This Week in Space for Canada

Our Prime Minister again endorses RadarSat Constellation, then reminds us that he increased Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funding in March 2010 so funding delays are now "a thing of the past," just so long as nobody needs any cash until next year, which may or may not be good news for Com Dev International which warned investors on August 26th of continued cost-growth problems with US and Canadian government satellite contracts. Meanwhile, a posse of politicians make an "important" announcement regarding "a future space mission for a Canadian astronaut" that most of the rest of us likely already know about. All that and more, this week in space for Canada.

Our first story this week comes to us directly from the website of the Prime Minister of Canada August 25th, 2010 backgrounder on the RADARSAT Constellation Mission which states:

The Harper Government's commitment to ensuring Canada maintains a strong and dynamic space industry, announced in Budget 2010, has provided the Canadian Space Agency with $397 million in new funds, over five years, to work with Canadian space industry to develop the RADARSAT Constellation Mission.

The Canadian Space Agency will contribute $100 million from existing resources to bring the total to $497 million that will be invested over five years in advanced research, technology development and lead to the construction of the three satellites of the Mission. The bulk of this spending will occur after 2011-12, with the satellite launches planned for 2014 and 2015.

Essentially, there is nothing new here. All of it was announced in March 2010 as part of the Federal governments current budget as outlined in the March 3rd, 2010 Government of Canada "Speech from the Throne" which was commented on by various news reports including this March 4th, 2010 CBC News report "BUDGET 2010: Modest progress on innovation in 2010 budget."

What is important is the context of the media backgrounder, which was provided by the Federal government as part of a speech Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the same day in Resolute Bay, Nunavut to a local audience where he spoke of the need to protect arctic sovereignty, provide for the ecosystem, inventory Canadian natural resources and how Radarsat was the appropriate tool needed for these jobs.

Canadian space focused industry looking to engage government resources might want to take note that hot button government issues for funding space activities seem to include arctic sovereignty, the ecosystem and natural resources.

Which brings us to our second story this week. According to the 27 August, 2010, article titled "Com Dev Struggles with Cost Growth on Government Programs" as posted on the Space News website:

Canadian satellite component builder Com Dev International on Aug. 26 warned investors that it faces continued cost-growth problems on several U.S. and Canadian government satellite programs and that it is further reducing its revenue and profit forecast for the year. It will be the fourth consecutive quarter that Cambridge, Ontario-based Com Dev has had to confront unexpected cost growth in contracts for government customers.

Com Dev makes on-board payload components for the booming commercial satellite market and has recently made forays into the developing micro-satellite market. Business is good in these areas.

However, this is not the first time that government contracts have proven to be minefields for Com Dev. Those looking for a little more context to this story might want to take a look at the June 16th edition of "This Week in Space for Canada."

Perhaps the company needs to develop a project wrapped around arctic sovereignty, the ecosystem or natural resources in order to assure that their government projects move forward.

Which brings us to our final story this week, which isn't so much of a story as it is a media advisory of a press conference being held tomorrow which will then announce an "important space mission" at least according to this September 1st, 2010 media advisory from the CSA website.

I made a small side wager with a colleague that the announcement had nothing to do with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's expected mission to the International Space Station (mostly because no one else would) but wasn't terribly surprised when Hadfield was indeed selected as expedition 35 commander earlier today.

After all, even casual spaceref.ca readers had known about the appointment for months.

That's all for this week in space for Canada.

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Chuck Black is the Secretary of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, a member of the Canadian Space Society, active in the International Association of Space Entrepeneurs and looking for the next big opportunity to make a little money off the high frontier. I live in Toronto, Ontario and can be reached at mr.chuck.black < at > gmail.com.