Canada Commits to the International Space Station Beyond 2015

©NASA

International Space Station

The government announced today that Canada intends to renew its commitment to the International Space Station(ISS) beyond 2015. Minister of Industry Christian Paradis made the announcement in Quebec City where the ISS Heads of Agency meeting is currently taking place. The news was expected but it took some time for Canada to commit, making it the last of the other participating nations to do so.

At the press conference today Mr. Paradis with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steve MacLean by his also unveiled two new medical science experiments Canada will undertake on the ISS, Microflow and Lab on a CD.

"We are helping to maintain Canada's leadership in space technology and its every day critical applications", declared Minister Paradis. "Jobs and growth are a top priority for our Government. We also recognize that maintaining Canada's place in technology leadership is part of the solution for economic growth and prosperity."

"State-of-the-art medical technology is an area in which our country can become a world leader," added Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency. "The technology solutions that provide a rapid medical diagnosis for an astronaut onboard the International Space Station could one day be standard equipment in your doctor's office."

ino-microflow.jpgLab on a CD and Microflow, will use space as a test environment to develop smaller, cheaper, and faster medical technology that can process and analyze medical samples aboard the ISS.

Lab on a CD, a project led by Dr. Michel G. Bergeron of the Infectious Disease Research Centre at Laval University. The project was funded with $150,000 from the CSA and $1.1 million from the European Space Agency.

Microflow is a technology demonstration platform developed by the National Optics Institute (INO). The Canadian Space Agency awarded INO a total of $2.6 million for the research. The Microflow test platform will be used when CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield heads to the ISS in December of this year.

Hadfield is taking the last ride Canada had contracted to the ISS with its partners. If future Canadians are to visit the ISS then a new agreement needs to be in place to get them there. With Canada's commitment today, and with ongoing negotiations with is partners, one would expect a new agreement in place in the future so that Canadian astronauts can continue to use the ISS.

Several of Canada's leading industry companies commented on today's announcement.

"We see this as a strong signal from the Government that it recognizes the strategic importance of space robotics", said Craig Thornton, MDA's general manager of robotics. "This is the kind of decision that helps to support Canada's high tech jobs, our worldwide leadership in space robotics as well as our competitiveness."

"This is excellent news; it marks a clear sign that Canada intends to continue to play a role as one of the world's pre-eminent, space-faring nations," said Neptec President Iain Christie. "Neptec has a long history of participating in the manned space exploration program, and this announcement means we'll continue to find opportunities where we can use our long experience and hard earned expertise into the next decade."

"The ISS partnership is important for Canadian industry's role in the development and operation of space robotics, space science and microgravity experiments," said Mr. James Butyniec, President and Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Aerospace.

The meeting will wrap up tomorrow with a press conference at 1:00 pm ET where a group communiqu will be released. The substance of that communiqu will likely not contain any new developments other than a continued commitment to using the space station to its fullest capability.