By Chuck Black
A trio of authors from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Western University have publicly released “A Vision for Canadian Space Exploration,” a proposal originally submitted to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains in response to the Space Advisory Board consultation on the creation of a new space strategy, which was announced earlier this year.
|Jeremy Heyl. Photo c/o UBC.
According to UBC astronomy professor Professor Jeremy Heyl, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has no money for international cooperation and needs a space policy able to offer up long-term consistent funding with which academics, policymakers and corporations can use to plan government activities and assess proposals.
|Ilaria Caiazzo. Photo c/o J. Heyl.
Heyl, in a phone conversation with this blog on Thursday, called current CSA funding “uninspiring” and suggested that “Canada is no longer a reliable partner for international aerospace proposals.”
The 26 page document, created by Heyl and two other authors, Western University associate professor of astronomy Sarah Gallagher and UBC doctoral student Ilaria Caiazzo, proposed “a sustained and balanced program in space exploration to fuel innovation in the space sector, support Canada’s world-leading space researchers, inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators, and create thousands of highly skilled, well-paying jobs for Canadians.”
|Sarah Gallagher. Photo c/o J. Heyl.
To support those goals, the document requested a “total investment of approximately $1Bln CDN, increasing to $1.3Bln CDN in each decade that follows,” for a variety of academically led space missions “including a regular flagship mission that Canada would lead and a constellation of smaller missions, either led by Canada or in collaboration with international partners…“
According to Heyl, the additional funding will allow the CSA to again contribute to international programs like the upcoming James Web Space Telescope (JWST), allow Canada to lead a variety of “flagship” missions and smaller projects and allow for the creation of a consistent process around CSA decision making.
According to the paper:
While Canada has had a track record of impressive contributions to international space exploration missions, we have failed to join several key recent NASA mission opportunities, including the Mars 2020 rover and the MoonRise lunar sample return mission. The window is closing fast for a Canadian contribution to NASA’s dark-energy flagship mission WFIRST and for the ESA X-ray flagship mission Athena…
The document also referenced “Canada’s Fundamental Science Review,” the independent review of federal science funding led by former University of Toronto president David Naylor, which was released in the spring.
As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 post, “”Massive” Review of Federal Science Funding Finally Released; Will Likely Soon ‘Drop Down the Memory Hole,‘” that review also requested large sums of new funding and is not likely to be implemented any time soon.
The latest paper is not the only document independently released to the public while the Space Advisory Board continues its private deliberations on Canada’s future in space. For other perspectives, check out the April 20th, 2017 post, “Space Advisory Committee Members Announced: Various Stakeholders Release Independent Assessments, Just in Case.”
Editors Note: Looks like the Space Advisory Board has just released their preliminary assessment.
As outlined in the August 18th, 2017 Government of Canada post, “Consultations on Canada’s future in space: What we heard, Space Advisory Board, August 2017,” the board’s recommendations include the following:
- Designating space as a National Strategic Asset.
- Strengthen world-class Canadian capabilities
- Adopting new policies and regulations to capitalize on technological advances.
- Continuity of policies and sustainable funding
- Outreach and educational activities to inspire and prepare Canadians
- An urgent call to action
On the other hand, there seems to be very little concrete statements or recommendations, in the way of funding or specific regulatory changes, which would help pave this highway to the future. It’s also amusing to note that the board explicitly recommended that it remain in existence so that it’s members can continue “building upon the contacts established” by its activities.
This blog will take a look at that document and those recommendations and provide a proper, informed assessment over the next few days. Stay tuned.
Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.