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Part 16: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

Posted July 13, 2017 by Chuck Black

Bombardier, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Conclusions

         By Robert Godwin

Canada’s aerospace raison d’être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.

The upshot of more than forty years of political machinations is that Canada now has only one major aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier Aerospace, which over the last few decades has become a global competitor in the mid-sized civilian jet market.
However, in 2016 an assortment of delays with a new line of aircraft pushed the company stock into difficult waters and once again the government was asked to intervene. In this instance the government of Quebec had the most to lose and so it was the first to pour money into the company.

The newly elected Trudeau government was expected to do the same, but the whole issue was delayed by complaints from Brazil’s Embraer SA, which had accused the Canadian government of unfair subsidies. This situation was further complicated by the senior shareholders refusing to transfer stockholder control to the government in exchange for the investment.

As a partial solution the sophisticated new line of “C” series jets was spun off into a separate company and new management placed in charge. When Pierre Trudeau’s government poured money into Canadair and de Havilland in the 1970s one of the first things he did was to place some new management into the ailing companies. This is standard company procedure in practically any majority sale of shares to new stockholders.

In February 2017 Justin Trudeau’s government announced its intention to navigate this difficult problem by offering $372Mln CDN in interest-free loans to Bombardier, because the conventional tactic of money for shares/management control would place the majority of the company’s ownership into government hands and would almost certainly trigger a trade dispute with the USA, Brazil and Europe.

Today Bombardier competes with Embraer to be the third largest manufacturer of jets in the world, but it is not the only aircraft manufacturer in Canada. Somewhat ironically, after so many of Canada’s top aerospace engineers moved to Bell Aircraft in Buffalo in the 1950s, Bell ended up moving some of its helicopter manufacturing operations to Quebec.

There have also been dozens of other small aircraft manufacturers in Canada in the last hundred years. Those consigned to history include Vickers, Cub, Noorduyn and Fairchild. However, the light aircraft industry in 2016 still includes Bristol Aerospace and over two dozen other small companies.

The civilian airline market has an equally convoluted history far beyond the scope of this article. Well over two hundred domestic commercial air carriers have operated in Canada, half of them are still in business today, most flying aircraft made outside of Canada.

Satellites and rockets have never supplanted the need for aircraft. They are two completely different tools in our arsenal to study, explore and defend. Canada’s huge size and difficult and varied climate has always required unique aerospace solutions. Whether it be planes capable of landing on water, or on skis (another of George Klein’s inventions), or whether it be long-range interceptors, or better radio transmitters that can defeat the auroral interference; or special kinds of rocket fuel like that developed at  the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) for the Black Brant. At the heart of the industry has been what Canadians needed, access to communications and resources.

At the time of writing, yet another cabinet in Ottawa is staying awake at night trying to decide which aircraft to choose for the next generation of Canadians. There is no doubt that as long as Canada has access to remote sensing tools like Radarsat that decision becomes a little easier to make.

On the military side, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) currently has 14 Wings which are spread right across the country. Air Force officers also operate in the space arena, conducting such high profile projects as the Sapphire satellite, which was launched in 2013 by the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to study the problem of space debris in low earth orbit.

The RCAF also utilizes the huge amount of data that pours down from Radarsat-2 through their Polar Epsilon project. Then there is the proposed Enhanced Satellite Communications Project, which if implemented will place two satellites in a high elliptical orbit capable of providing better communications in the arctic and polar regions.

The media spends a lot of time concentrating on the things that need fixing in the RCAF, such as replacing the fighters, or search and rescue helicopters, but the Air Force has over 80 squadrons equipped with more than 20 different aircraft.

The heart of the fleet’s technology spans more than six decades. Although the oldest model is the Lockheed Hercules, the actual Hercules aircraft in service today are modern upgrades purchased in 2010. 45% of the currently operational RCAF fleet is built in the United States, 20% in Europe and Israel and 35% in Canada.

Our foreign built aircraft include:

  • CC-130 Hercules (Built by Lockheed, with the first flight in 1956)
  • CH-147F Chinook (Boeing 1962)
  • CH-124 Sea King (Sikorsky 1963)
  • CT-155 Hawk (BAE 1974)
  • CF-18 Hornet (Boeing 1978)
  • CP-140 Aurora (Lockheed 1979)
  • CP-140A Arcturus (Lockheed 1979)
  • CC-177 Globemaster III (Boeing 1991)
  • CC-150 Polaris (Airbus 1992)
  • CU-170 Heron (Malat 1994)
  • G-120 (Grob 1999)
  • CH-149 Cormorant (AgustaWestland 2000)
  • CT-156 Harvard II (Beechcraft 2000)
  • CH-148 Cyclone (Sikorsky 2008)

Our Canadian built aircraft include:

  • CT-114 Tutor (Built by Canadair, with the first flight in 1960)
  • CH-139 Jet Ranger (Bell  1962)
  • CC-138 Otter (de Havilland/Viking Air 1965)
  • CC-115 Buffalo (de Havilland/Viking Air 1965)
  • CC-144 Challenger (Bombardier 1978)
  • CT-142 DASH-8 (Bombardier 1983)
  • CH-146 Griffon (Bell 1992)

The world has changed a lot since de Havilland and Avro built everything in-house. Many of the largest aerospace manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus don’t make everything in France or the USA, they source components from all over the world. So although we think of Bombardier and MacDonald Detwiler (MDA) as Canadian companies they have factories and facilities on several continents. The global market has changed everything.

As a good example of that, and for anyone still looking for more signs of Canada’s rich aerospace DNA in the Toronto area, one of the great success stories is that of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Located in a 250,000 sq ft plant a short walk from where Victory Aircraft stood in the 1940s, MHI Canada (MHIC) is the latest contributor to the long genealogy of large aircraft part manufacturers in Mississauga.

Known in the industry as a “Tier One” player, MHIC employs over 750 Canadians (many brought in straight out of the local universities and colleges) to quietly and studiously build wings and fuselage sections for Bombardier. That’s more than twice as many people as Sir Roy Dobson started Avro with in 1946. The Mitsubishi name is known and respected around the world, not least for having built the Kibo module for the International Space Station (ISS).

MHIC now has a direct link to Canada’s long aircraft manufacturing history and not just through its obvious connection to Bombardier. The company is also partnering with MDA to apply the outstanding robotic technologies developed for the Canadarm to create world-beating methods for aircraft manufacturing.

As if that isn’t enough of a provenance, the current president of MHIC came up through the ranks at the old Victory/Avro/McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing plant in Malton and makes sure the company has a good working relationship with industry groups such as CASI, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and the Ontario Aerospace Council.

The company is also an engaged and generous partner to the local community on a par with how Avro conducted itself in the 1950s. Perhaps even more encouraging is that MHIC sources its components from more than two dozen other Canadian suppliers, accounting for 65% of their material requirements. Many of the companies in MHIC’s and Bombardier’s supply chain provide world-class technology and are the quiet unsung heroes of modern Canadian aerospace.

Many smaller companies continue to evolve and grow in Canada’s special aerospace market. One highly visible success story is Viking Air of British Columbia.

Initially Viking’s business was selling parts and repairs for Grumman aircraft but in 1983 they took over servicing for the large global fleet of de Havilland aircraft, such as the Beaver and the Otter. By 2006 they had acquired certificates for the Chipmunk, Otter, Beaver, Caribou, Buffalo and the DASH-7. Between 2010 and 2016 Viking sold 60 Twin Otters to 24 countries. In 2016 they purchased more designs from Bombardier for amphibious aircraft. In 2017 Viking is modernizing Canada’s rich aviation heritage and once again shipping iconic designs around the world.

Remote sensing continues to be one of the principal ways that Canada contributes to our understanding and better stewardship of our home planet. The Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (CCMEO) is now leading a Government of Canada research and development effort to prepare for a 3-satellite RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) to be launched in 2018.

It is now a little more than 150 years since William Leitch first proposed rocket space flight from his desk at Queen’s College in Kingston Ontario. Since then, Canadians have:

  • Postulated the first rocket assisted  aircraft. 
  • Become the third country to build its own satellite.
  • Built the world’s first geosynchronous national telecommunications system.
  • Designed and fabricated what is arguably the most successful piece of space communications hardware ever created.
  • Flew the world’s first direct TV satellite broadcast system.
  • Constructed the most advanced robotic system to ever fly in space.
  • Created some of the world’s most sophisticated space-based remote sensing systems.
  • Proposed the first space-based earth-observation platform using microwave radar.
  • Manufactured the fastest down-link imaging system in the world.
  • Assembled the world’s only space “gun.”
  • Created the hardware which discovered weather on Mars and beyond Pluto.
  • Contributed to every manned spacecraft yet to fly in the United States.
  • Helped design and build the spacecraft and launch system which took humans to the moon.
  • And unraveled the mysteries of the aurora. 
In this anniversary year it seems more than appropriate that this uniquely polar phenomenon would now be enshrined on Canadian money. Image c/o Canadian Mint.

Canada may be 150 years old but since before the dawn of recorded history the eyes of ancient ancestral peoples have gazed up at the astonishing spectacle of the polar aurora and wondered what role it plays in our terrestrial affairs. By trying to answer this question the first inhabitants of this continent took the first steps on a long path of discovery which has ultimately spawned our own unique aerospace industry.

All of this came about as a result of a need to explore the vast remote regions of Canada, to be able to communicate across that same wilderness, and to be able to utilize and protect its resources. Despite all of these amazing accomplishments one thing hasn’t changed; Canadians still need a robust aerospace industry for all of the same reasons which Phil Lapp outlined sixty years ago.

There is still a lot to explore, utilize and protect. 

Robert Godwin.

Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series “The NASA Mission Reports” and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called “2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey” about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Last Week, “More RADARSAT, More Astronauts, the CSA’s Growing Importance, the ‘Airbus Affair,’ MacDonald Dettwiler & the ‘Canadarm’,” in part fifteen of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History.

To Start at the Beginning: Check out, “Before Canada: HMS Agamemnon, the Telegraph Cable, William Leitch & ‘The Fur Country’,” in part one of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

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Part 15: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

Posted July 6, 2017 by Chuck Black

More RADARSAT, More Astronauts, the CSA’s Growing Importance, the “Airbus Affair,” MacDonald Dettwiler & the “Canadarm” 

Graphic c/o CSA.
          By Robert Godwin

Canada’s aerospace raison d’être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.

Radarsat-1 would finally be launched in 1995 having consumed a massive budget in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. The British government had reneged on its promise to participate, so Canada was left to carry most of the burden. However, the gamble paid off and Radarsat would become one of the most successful remote sensing machines in history.

MDA’s technology for processing data from orbit was second to none. The final flight version of Radarsat-1 included a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) antenna that was 15m long by 1.5m wide and it could operate in a half dozen different modes. Somewhat tellingly it still included an X-band antenna similar to that proposed by Kurt Stehling in 1953. The SAR exceeded all expectations and opened up new vistas of research in everything from geology to archaeology.

Between January 1998 and March 1999 an assortment of purchases and sales led to the deconstruction of SPAR Aerospace including the purchase of the robotics division by MDA and with it the Canadarm contracts. That same year Orbital sold its interests in MDA.

Most of Canada’s space activity was now firmly centred at the CSA in St Hubert. Bjarni Tryggvason would get to fly aboard the space shuttle in 1997 and a second generation of Canadian astronauts had been recruited several years earlier. This group included Chris Hadfield, Dave Williams and Julie Payette. All three would also enter the vernacular in Canada and fly a multitude of important missions into space.

Many of the flights by Canadian astronauts involved remote sensing of the earth. Robert Thirsk would fly in 1996 followed by Garneau for the second time. Today, four more Canadians have joined the astronaut corps, David Saint-Jacques, Jeremy Hansen, Jennifer Sidey and Joshua Kutryk. At the time of writing, all are still waiting for the next generation of manned spacecraft to be completed.

Also in 1996 Com Dev of Cambridge Ontario would acquire a license to manufacture a vast quantity of their unique microwave multiplexers to place aboard the most visible of all the satellite constellations, Project Iridium.

The “Airbus Affair,” dogged Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, well after his term of office ended in 1993. For an overview, check out the April 29th, 2010 Globe and Mail post, “The scandal that keeps on flying.” Political cartoon c/o Michael de Adder.

In July 1997 Boeing and Douglas merged, and when the group didn’t get the orders they anticipated during the highly publicized Airbus fiasco in 2005, Boeing closed the old Avro Malton Plant laying off the last 300 workers.

The development of new tools for remote sensing continued unabated. Alan Carswell’s Lidar had originally been designed to study pollution and air quality, but it would stir headlines across the world when it was deployed on the surface of Mars in 2008 and detected snow falling there. It was the first snow detected on another planet. However, this would not be the first time that Canadian technology had been to the red planet.

There were the reverse-engineered STEM aboard the Soviet’s Mars 3 lander and NASA had used STEMs to deploy the ramps for the Sojourner/Pathfinder rover in July of 1997. The instruments on the end of the massive STEM booms aboard the two Voyager spacecraft, which were now plying their way into interstellar space, and would be the first to discover interstellar weather in 2014.

In 2007 the first Japanese spacecraft to orbit the moon, the SELENE, once again used STEMs. Even the United States Air Force Academy’s Falconsat program used STEMs for a gravity gradient boom.

Infographic showing statistics on SCISAT, a small Canadian satellite that monitors ozone in the stratosphere and helps scientists improve their understanding of ozone depletion. Graphic c/o CSA.

Studying the weather was now becoming a critical function of space hardware. Climate change was on the top of every government’s “to do” list. In 2003 Canada contributed the Scisat which was able to study the Earth’s ozone layer. The same year also saw the launch of the MOST space telescope, which was followed up by the MOST space telescope, which was designed to make extremely long duration observations of stars in an attempt to better understand them and perhaps get a better date for the age of the universe.

In 2006 the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), or Canadarm2, was launched to the International Space Station (ISS). The four components of Canadarm 2, including its attendant hand, the special purpose dexterous manipulator (SPDM) also  known as DEXTRE, were built by SPAR both before and after it had been purchased by MDA. The system continues to operate aboard the ISS today.

Between 2009 and 2013 several Canadian astronauts lived aboard ISS and used the Canadarm2. These included Julie Payette, Robert Thirsk and most famously Chris Hadfield who managed to cause a media sensation with his regular reports from orbit.

The CSA also helped to fund MDA’s construction of a second Radarsat. Launched in December of that year the Radarsat-2 pushed the technology even further. Although the satellite was lighter than its predecessor it could resolve down to 1m by 3m in its “spotlight” mode which was a marked improvement over Radarsat-1. It could also look both right and left, which effectively doubled the viewing capabilities.

In 2012 MDA purchased a massive US corporation named Loral. This was as a direct result of the Canadian government blocking the sale of MDA to another American company named ATK. MDA was considered too important to Canada’s aerospace industry, and as the benefactor of a large portion of the available funding coming from the CSA, the sale was considered counter-productive to Canadian interests.

The root of this issue went all the way back to the late 1960s when governments around the world had been arguing about who controlled the space above sovereign territory. At first the USA had argued that satellites should be allowed to image anything which was beneath them. Other countries objected, including Canada, in part because it was felt that if the control of the data was in US hands before it came into Canadian hands, this might give American corporations an unfair advantage when it came to mineral rights.

A reminder that international political and business concerns often override other issues. For example, the March 30th, 2001 Globe and Mail post, “Bilateral space causing delays, costing millions,” discussed reasons why the Canadian RADARSAT-2 program, originally expected to be launched on an American rocket from US soil, was being delayed and eventually needed to be launched by Starsem from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 14th, 2007. The April 10th, 2018 post, “Federal government blocks sale of MDA space division,” delved into how, during that same period, MDA attempted to sell its space technology division to US based Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Four years later, as outlined in the June 27th, 2012 post, “MacDonald Dettwiler buys Space Systems Loral for $875M,” MDA tried another technique to bypass a “Gordian knot” of complex barriers designed to dissuade foreign firm from entering the lucrative US marketplace by purchasing a space company with US roots. And, as outlined most recently in the May 8th, 2017 post, “MDA Restructures For DARPA & Competition, Cuts US Workforce but Anticipates New Orders in Weak Q1 2017 Report” MDA is still attempting to reconfigure itself into a mostly US based firm to come into compliance with US legislation and achieve the anticipated pot of US gold assumed to accrue naturally to US military contractors. Screenshot c/o Globe and Mail.

Eventually a compromise was reached, in part because of MDA’s ability to draw down the data at speeds unapproachable elsewhere. NASA relented at the beginning of the 1970s and agreed to let Canadian companies like MDA read the data generated above Canada.

Now that Radarsat was able to pull much more detailed and expansive data of Canada’s resources and environment, the need for quick access was even more important. Today MDA is able to compete on a huge range of space projects. It sells high resolution imagery to distributors around the globe, and in early 2017 it was selected to participate in an asteroid discovery mission.

Also in the early spring of 2017 an American and Ukrainian consortium announced plans to build an orbital launch facility in Nova Scotia. With Canada currently purchasing launch services from India and the United States it seems that the political will may have finally arrived to take advantage of the highly skilled aerospace workforce in Canada; albeit using imported hardware. The East Coast launch site was chosen for many of the same reasons originally proposed by Phil Lapp, Kurt Stehling and John Chapman in the 1950s and 60s. The 50th anniversary of the Chapman Report would seem a fitting time to break ground on this new facility.

Robert Godwin.

Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series “The NASA Mission Reports” and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called “2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey” about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Last Week, “Challengers Destruction, the Hubble Space Telescope, a New HQ for the CSA, Spar Flounders & Orbital Sciences Buys MDA,” in part fourteen of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History.

Next Week, “Bombardier, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Conclusions,” as “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History” finishes up an amazing journey.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

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The 2017 Edition of "Summer Reading for Space Geeks"

Posted June 26, 2017 by Chuck Black
Poster c/o Republic Films & AGO.

The Canadian space industry, along with most of the rest of the country, is taking a break to celebrate our 150th anniversary as a nation on July 1st.

With that in mind, here is the latest listing of interesting articles, websites, movies, publications and historical documents, which provide a bit of context to the current space debates happening here and elsewhere.


2001: The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey by Frederick I Ordway III and Robert Godwin – Despite over 30 years of advances in space flight and movie-making, it is still 2001: A Space Odyssey which most fans, film makers and critics use as the yardstick against which all other space films are measured. Take a trip through more than eleven decades of space films to learn just how far this movie pushed the state of the art and how it continues to affect motion pictures today.

2001: The Lost Science and 2001: The Lost Science Volume 2 by Adam Johnson – 2001: A Space Odyssey is an almost flawless scientific facade constructed by Kubrick, Clarke, Ordway, Lange and the hundreds of engineers and scientists who contributed to the production. Author and engineer Adam Johnson has spent years accumulating information, once believed to have been long since destroyed, to create a detailed and unprecedented analysis of the technology envisioned in Kubrick’s masterpiece.

50 Years of European Co-operation in Space: A presentation to the 57th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (13 June 2014) – Not many know that the collaborative European space effort was officially born 50 years ago, when two leading scientific statesmen, Pierre Auger of France and Edoardo Amaldi of Italy, made the first steps towards establishing a significant European presence in space. This presentation provides context for their first meetings and shows how they helped create the current European Space Agency (ESA).

Aerospace Marketing Management – Whether you want to build rockets, planes or something else, you’ll need to know how to fund, promote and market your project. This book provides an overall picture of both B2B and B2C marketing strategies, concepts and tools used throughout the aeronautics sector. It includes useful discussions of trends such as social marketing, customer orientation strategies, project marketing, concurrent engineering strategies, the tactics of “coopetition” or co-operative competition within organizations and many other useful methodologies. A ready reference for professionals and graduates from both engineering and business schools interested in aerospace and “spaaace!”

Aerospace Projects Review – The classic “journal of unbuilt aircraft and spacecraft projects” including detailed schematics for aircraft and spacecraft designs such as Saturn V S-IC derived flyback boosters, the Helios nuclear-pulse propulsion program, the incredible Project Orion interplanetary battleship along with various predecessors of the X-20 Dyna Soar, the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and many others.

After Apollo: Richard Nixon and the American Space Program by John M. Logsdon –  After the success of the Apollo 11 mission the question became, ‘What do you do next, after landing on the Moon?‘ It fell to President Richard M. Nixon to answer this question. The book chronicles his successes and failures in this area and suggests reasons why people are still asking this question, over forty years later.

The Archimedes Institute – An international not-for-profit organization focused on issues of private property claims in space, which was active from 1997 to the early 2000’s, a period during which many early legal claims in this area began to flow through the court system. The site was organized and maintained by Professor Lawrence D. Roberts, a legal academic specializing in science and technology policy, and David Kantymir.

Arms and the Man; Dr. Gerald Bull, Iraq, and the Supergun by William Lowther – A short history of flawed Canadian genius Dr. Gerald Bull, a passionate and driven ballistics visionary responsible for the design of many of the worlds deadliest artillery cannons, who initially hoped to build “superguns” able to send small satellites into space, but ended up attempting to fund his dream by dancing with the devil through the political machinations of the middle east.

Arrows to the Moon; Avro’s Engineers and the Space Race by Chris Gainor – While most know about the German rocket engineers led by Wernher von Braun, who helped put Apollo astronauts on the Moon, very few have heard about the Canadian engineers like Jim Chamberlin, John Hodge, Owen Maynard and others who top NASA officials called a “godsend” to the US space program in its early years. This is their story.

Arthur C. Clarke: A Life Remembered by Fred Clarke – Written by his brother, this book provides a rare insight into Arthur’s early life, and into the people he met and influenced during his own personal odyssey. The book also includes a unique collection of photographs from the Clarke family, some of which have never been published before.

The Atomic Rockets of the Space Patrol website – Inspired by Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and Jerry Pournelle and designed to provide everything you need to know about designing and building spaceships. The site is especially useful for its discussions on engines, realistic spacecraft designs and a standalone section on “Rocketpunk and MacGuffinite.”

Becoming Spacefarers: Rescuing America’s Space Program by James A. Vedda – All you ever wanted to know about the US space program with extra political intrigue, spicy historical analogies and ideas that challenge conventional wisdom added for seasoning. Written for those who know that what we should be doing next in space is heavily dependent on what we’ve been doing up until now. 
Canada in Space by Chris Gainor – A short history of Canada’s contributions to space research and discovery including the development of the Canadarm and Canadarm2, the Alouette I ionospheric research satellite, the Canadians who engineered key components for NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs the birth of Canada’s commercial satellite industry and much, much more.

Canada’s 50 Years in Space: The COSPAR Anniversary by Gordon Shepherd and Agnes Kruchio – Provides a thorough description of the parallel growth of the Canadian space science program and the international activities of the Paris based Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) from 1958 up until the 50th Anniversary of COSPAR in 2008. For those who think we need to know more about our history and plan on not making the same mistakes.
The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada – A national alliance of professional science communicators who “cultivate excellence in science writing and science journalism” in an effort to increase public awareness of science in Canadian culture.

Canadian Space Directory – The Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) listing of Canadian private and public organizations who have been and/or are engaged in space related activities.

Canadian Spacewalkers: Hadfield, MacLean and Williams Remember the Ultimate High Adventure by Bob MacDonald –  What’s it really like to step into that abyss; to leap out into space with only the thin fabric of your suit between you and the universe? Find out in this compilation of perspectives from three Canadian space walkers starting from the beginning of their training right through to the moment when they opened the hatch and stepped outside into the cold blackness of space. The book is lavishly illustrated with stunning NASA photos.

The Case for Space Solar Power by John Mankins – A must-read primer on the topic of space based solar power providing context and history on the topic with outlines of proposed concepts, objectives and hurdles still to be overcome plus an explanation of possible future development timelines all presented in an organized and easy-to-digest manner.

The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy – This Virginia based think tank focuses on the legal and policy issues associated with geo-spatial data and technology as it relates to issues of privacy, data quality, intellectual property rights and national security, which are often undefined, inconsistent and/or unclear.

China in Space: The Great Leap Forward by Brian Harvey – The explosive growth of China’s innovative and rapidly developing space program in recent years has made it a hot topic in international space policy. This follow up to Harvey’s earlier book, China’s Space Program – From Conception To Manned Spaceflight (2004) bring us up to date with everything that is happening in the Chinese space program today and looks at its ambitious future.

Cold War Tech War; The Politics of America’s Air Defense by Randall Whitcomb – Explores the geo-political, technical and economic aspects of the Avro Canada story by revealing, for the first time anywhere, several exciting design proposals of the Avro company while putting the company and its technology into an international context. Global intelligence angles are explored from pre-WW II through the Cold War period. Focus is on bi-lateral issues with the Americans, with some pertinent American statesmen and industrialists receiving special attention for their roles.

Creating A Robust Canadian Space Research Exploration & Development Industry – The Canadian Mineral Industry Flow-Though Share Analog by John Chapman, Nadeem Ghafoor, Christian Sallaburger and Frank Teti – A paper originally presented at the 2008 Canadian Space Summit, which suggested that private capital would flow into the space industry if the government gave the space industry the same tax breaks as the mining industry. Became the basis for the second of three Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) submissions to the 2012 Canadian Aerospace review under the title “Using Tools from the Mining Industry to Spur Innovation and Grow the Canadian Space Industry.”

Defence and Discovery: Canada’s Military Space Program, 1945-74 by Andrew B. Godefroy – A comprehensive examination of the origins, development, and impact of Canada’s space program. Drawing on declassified archival sources and a wealth of secondary material, Canada’s early space research is put into context along with the central role of military enterprise in these early endeavours. The technological, political, and strategic implications of the country’s early innovation in space-research technology are also discussed, as is the country’s subsequent turn from this arena.

Encyclopedia Astronautica – A comprehensive catalog of vehicles, technology, astronauts and information from most countries that have had an active rocket research program, maintained by space enthusiast and author Mark Wade. Part of the Space Daily network.

Friends of the CRC – An association of alumni of the Communications Research Centre (CRC), the government department responsible for most of Canada’s early satellite launches. The site provides multiple articles on early Canadian efforts by some of the people who were actually there. Authors include Bert Blevis (“The Pursuit of Equality: The Role of the Ionosphere and Satellite Communications in Canadian Development” and “The Implications of Satellite Technology for Television Broadcasting in Canada” with M.L. Card), Gerald Poaps (“Gerald Poaps’ Scrapbook“) and others.

Archived presentations from the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group – These are archived and peer reviewed studies (some with audio visual and power-points) for a variety of NASA approved concepts related to future in-space operations and activities.

The Handbook on Measuring the Space Economy – From the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which grew out of the post WW2, US-financed Marshall Plan to provide “a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.” The publication provides a summary of the key methodological issues surrounding indicators and statistics on the space sector and the larger space economy and is meant to be complementary to another publication, the Space Economy at a Glance 2011. Both publications, along with many others including the more recent Space Economy at a Glance 2014, are available from the OECD website.

The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill and Freeman Dyson – A classic work on the practicality and economics of the human colonization of space. But for all its worth, when the first edition was published back in the mid 1970s, the author likely assumed that some of us would be living in orbit by now.

Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce – For those of us who feel government has a role in the conquest of space, this book examines six models of government support for commercial space activities and how the lessons learned from them could help do so. Part of the NASA History Series of publications.

Historical Investment Financing of Exploration for New Worlds, Current Analogies to Other Industries, and Ideas for the Future by Eva Jane Lark – Essential reading for understanding how exploration has really been financed, written by a Canadian banking executive. Here’s a hint. It’s mostly not done through government programs.

From Fishing Hamlet to Red Planet: India’s Space Journey edited by P. V. Manoranjan Rao, B. N. Suresh and V. P. Balagangadharan – A chronicle “like so many other histories written by engineers and scientists, long on nuts and bolts as well as the story of a march of progress and short on analysis and context,” according to author Roger Launius. Still worth a look, especially given that India is currently a space powerhouse.

ISRU Info: The Home of the Space Resources Roundtable – A non-profit corporation promoting the development of space resources. Recent meetings have been held in conjunction with the Planetary & Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS).

Janes Space Systems and Industry – A pricey but comprehensive listing of the thousands of commercial and military space systems in service and under development around the world. Designed to provide aerospace and defence businesses with “critical independent technical and market intelligence” to support effective business and products development and provide military and security organizations with the intelligence they need to support critical analysis, planning and procurement activities.

LEO on the Cheap by Lt. Col. John R. London III – A fascinating read on methods to achieve drastic reductions in launch costs. It serves as a useful companion piece to the 1993 John Walker article “a Rocket a Day Keeps the High Costs Away.”

The Long Space Age: The Economic Origins of Space Exploration from Colonial America to the Cold War by Alexander MacDonald – Examines the economic history of American space exploration and spaceflight, from early astronomical observatories to the International Space Station, and argues that the contemporary rise of private-sector efforts is the re-emergence of a long-run trend not a new phenomenon. A slap in the face to government scientists who think the only way to fund science is on the government dole.

A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin – In-depth interviews with twenty-three of the twenty-four moon voyageurs, as well as those who struggled to get the program moving. The book conveys every aspect of the Apollo missions with breathtaking immediacy and stunning detail. Includes an introduction by Tom Hanks, an actor who has played an astronaut in movies and is therefore assumed to know what he’s talking about.

Maple Leaf in Orbit: Institutionalizing the Canadian Space Program, 1984–1995 by Andrew B. Godefroy – Was the success of Canada’s space program in the first half of the 1980s largely the result of the country’s increased bilateral space cooperation with the United States? Godefroy argues that it was and calls co-operative initiatives such as the Canadarm a demonstration of how both Canadian nationalism and internationalism could work in outer space, despite the presence of some political friction between the two partners on Earth. Vital context to inform the current debate over Canada’s space future.

Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek – Why did a government program whose standard operating procedure had always been secrecy turn its greatest achievement into a communal “brand experience” with top media ratings and high public approval? Read this book and find out.

The Microsat Way in Canada by Peter Stibrany and Kieran A. Carroll – A formative paper written by two of the people involved in the design and development of the Microvariability and Oscillations of STars (MOST) space telescope, discussing how micro-satellite manufacturing methodologies will change the economics of space applications and reduce the barriers to entry for new companies. These discussions eventually became the basis for the methodologies in use today at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) Space Flight Laboratory (SFL).

NASA E-book and podcasts – A fascinating list of NASA books, podcasts, galleries’ apps, ringtones and information relating to the US space program. 

The Online Journal of Space Communication – Since 2001, this scholarly publication has bridged the world of the professional and the world of the academic, two worlds in desperate need of bridging. The publication examines a broad range of issues and events in space and satellite communication, including their historical, technological, economic, policy, cultural and social dimensions.

The Orbital Express Project of Bristol Aerospace and Microsat Launch Systems by Geoffrey V. Hughes – An important case study for those wishing to study the technology and business development issues surrounding a small satellite launch vehicle.
The Plundering of NASA: An Expose by Rickey D Boozer – An interesting expose which attempts to lift the veil of Congressional politics which force NASA to do the bidding of regional interests that cripple the nation’s capabilities in both exploring outer space and exploiting its enormous economic potential.

Proceedings of the 48th History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) edited by Marsha Freedmann – Volume 46 of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) series on the History of Rocketry and Astronautics. Includes a DVD supplement containing a 2014 interview with long-time International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) member Prof. Iván Almár and the paper, “One Hundred Years of Aerospace History in Canada: From McCurdy to Hadfield,” by Robert Godwin, Phil Lapp and Chuck Black, which was serialized on the Commercial Space blog, beginning with the February 7th, 2015 post, “Verne, The Fur Country, G.Y. Kaufman, Baldwin, McCurdy & Balfour Currie.”

Proceedings of the Princeton Conferences on Space Manufacturing – Abstracts from thirteen conferences from 1975 until 2001, which focused on the challenges and opportunities of space based manufacturing. The original events were organized in cooperation with the Space Studies Institute, a not-for-profit organization which grew out of the interest generated by Gerard K. O’Neill’s vision of human colonies in space.

Quest, The History of Space Flight Quarterly – A combination of learned journal and mass market publication which captures stories related to the people, projects, and programs that have been part of the last fifty years of civil, military, commercial, and international space activities.

Reaching for the High Frontier: The American Pro-Space Movement, 1972-1984 by Michael A. G. Michaud – Exceptional reading for background on the various space advocacy groups which grew out of the 1972–1984 period of stagnant space activities. The book provides many useful lessons on advocacy and a PDF is available online at no charge.

Russia in Space: The Past Explained. The Future Explored by Anatoly Zak – This comprehensive history of the Russian space program is a unique attempt to visualize the future of astronautics through the eyes of Russian space engineers and describe the processes which went into a nation’s planning in space over the past several decades. A large format, full colour and well illustrated book bolstered by almost 700 footnotes.

Safe is Not an Option: Overcoming the Futile Obsession with Getting Everyone Back Alive that is Killing our Expansion into Space by Rand Simberg – Since the end of Apollo, US space operations have ostensibly emphasized safety first. Simberg argues that this has been a mistake, and we must change if we are to continue to “boldly go” back to the Moon and Mars. Simberg makes a cogent argument that our focus on safety doesn’t really increase safety but instead acts as a “barrier to entry” for new companies and protects the profits of large, politically connected “dyno-space” companies.

The Science and Futurism You-Tube Channel, hosted by Isaac Arthur – Focused on exploring concepts in science with an emphasis on futurism and space exploration, along with a healthy dose of science fiction, this channel explores many concepts and technologies that are far beyond us now, but tries to keep everything inside the bounds of known science or major theories. Arthur also maintains the amazing IsaacArthur .net.

Sex and Rockets by John Carter (author) with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson – For those of us who think rocket science is boring, here’s the incredible but true story of scientist, poet, and self-proclaimed anti-christ, Jack Parsons, who co-founded the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), led the Agape Lodge of Aleister Crowley‘s Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) and even bore more than a passing resemblance to Iron Man’s father. Scary, scary stuff…

Short History of Private Space Development by Clark S. Lindsey- Useful historical context from the person who edits both the long-running HobbySpace blog and the NewSpace Watch commercial site.

Small Satellites and their Regulation by Ram Jakhu and Joseph Pelton – This short interdisciplinary book covers the legal challenges relating to small-sats including technical standards, removal techniques or other methods that might help to address current problems. Also included are discussions of regulatory issues and procedures to ameliorate problems associated with small satellites, especially mounting levels of orbital debris and noncompliance with radio frequency and national licensing requirements, liabilities and export controls. Jakhu  the associate director of the Centre for Research of Air and Space Law at McGill University, was one of two authors of the February 17th, 2017 “Independent Review of the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act.”

Soviet Space Culture: Cosmic Enthusiasm in Socialist Countries by Eva MaurerJulia RichersCarmen Scheide & Monica Rüthers – An interesting historical examination of the Soviet space program as a unique cultural phenomenon, which united communism and religion to the utopian and atheistic during the period from the first Sputnik launch to the mid 1970’s.

The Space Business Blog – A series of useful case studies on the economics of space based businesses, written by a Lockheed Martin financial analyst between 2010 and 2013.

The Space Library – A repository of primary resource materials (and quite a number of Commercial Space blog posts) from retired NASA astronauts and employees, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the British Interplanetary Society and others. Curated by Robert Godwin, the owner of Apogee Books, which has a number of other publications on this list.

The compilation of Space Law Documents for 2013 – Edited by P.J. Blount, an adjunct professor in air and space law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, who also edited the Res Communis Blog (which ran from 2007 until 2014), this three volume set covers state (volume one), federal (volume two) and international (volume three) documents of interest in this area. Now if only someone will bring this the documents up to date.
Space Mission Analysis and Design (SMAD) by James R Wertz and Wiley Larson – A textbook quality publication for engineering and space activities providing what you need to speak the language of space.

Space Prizes – From 2006 until 2015, this was the unofficial “publication of record” for tracking prizes related to space technology with listings, updates and status reports on 100’s of international student, scientific and commercial contests. Currently inactive.

Space Vehicle Design Second Edition by Michael D Griffin and James R French – Described as “”the best, the most comprehensive, the most up-to-date resource for today’s engineering challenges in space systems design.”The second edition links and integrates many disciplines relevant to the field of space systems engineering and contains an additional chapter on reliability analysis, new technical material and numerous homework problems.

The Space Report Online – The “authoritative guide to international space activities” published by the Space Foundation, one of the world’s premier nonprofit organizations supporting space activities, education and space professionals. This online repository of data related to the worldwide space industry also contains copies of the annual 2006 – 2015 editions of the Space Report, the annual publication which serves as the basis of the current repository.

The Space Review – An online publication devoted to in-depth articles, commentary, and reviews regarding all aspects of space exploration: science, technology, policy, business, and more. Edited by Jeff Foust, an aerospace analyst who wrote the Space Politics blog from 2004 – 2014 and currently writes for SpaceNews.

Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada by J.H. Chapman, P.A. Forsyth, P.A. Lapp and G.N. Patterson – Canada is today an international leader in the fields of communications and remote sensing because of John Chapman (1921-1979) who was senior author of this report, written in 1967 and now known simply as the “Chapman Report.” It recommended using Canadian satellite and space technology for commercial activities such as communications and resource management instead of focusing only on scientific research. Over time, the report became “Canada’s Original Blueprint” for space activities and still contains lessons for policymakers today.

Vision Restoration – A fascinating time capsule on NASA, ESA and America’s past and future in space focused around the February 2004 NASA Vision for Space Exploration but full of lessons related to the current Space Launch System (SLS) debate and large, government funded space programs in general. Active from 2009 – 2014.

William Leitch: Presbyterian Scientist & the Concept of Rocket Spaceflight 1854-64 by Robert Godwin – In September 1861 Leitch wrote an essay called “A Journey Through Space” in which he proposed the idea that a rocket would be the most efficient way to travel outside the Earth’s atmosphere. His idea would be forgotten and not be “rediscovered” by science for another three decades. This is his story.

Who Owns the Moon?: Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources Ownership by Virgiliu Pop – An investigation into the viability of property rights on the celestial bodies, particularly the extraterrestrial aspects of land and mineral resources ownership. In lay terms, it aims to find an answer to the question “Who owns the Moon?”

Why Where Matters: Understanding and Profiting from GPS, GIS and Remote Sensing by Bob Ryerson and Stan Aronof – A useful, highly readable primer on the business applications surrounding geomatics, the study of geographic and/or spatially referenced images which are used by various industries for planning and resource management. Vital background to understand the context surrounding the current Earth imaging boom.

A comprehensive listing of Worldwide Launch Schedules from Spaceflight Now – A regularly updated listing of planned missions and rocket launches around the globe. Dates and times are given in Greenwich Mean Time.

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Part 14: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

Posted June 15, 2017 by Chuck Black

Challengers Destruction, the Hubble Space Telescope, a New HQ for the CSA, Spar Flounders

& Orbital Sciences Buys MDA

Challenger’s destruction January 28th, 1986. Photo c/o NYT.
         By Robert Godwin

Canada’s aerospace raison d’être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.

In 1982 Phil Lapp had again tried to spark a cross-Atlantic partnership for Canadian space research with his friend Geoffrey Pardoe in England. SPAR had signed an agreement to work with the European Space Agency (ESA) on a large observation satellite named L-Sat. This agreement would ultimately start discussions which might bring Britain into the next generation of synthetic aperture (SAR) equipped satellites. Unfortunately this was not going to be an easy marriage. Long before the program could bear fruit British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pulled out of the agreement.

Problems were soon compounded by the tragic destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in early 1986. As well as the devastating loss of life, many extremely expensive long-term projects were put into a holding pattern while NASA tried to determine the source of the catastrophic failure of its most advanced and expensive space system.

Canada’s next astronaut, Dr Robert Bondar, would see her mission pushed back by years. The hugely expensive Hubble Space Telescope, which used STEM-equipped solar panels, was delayed because it was designed to be launched from the shuttle cargo bay. For two and a half years NASA was grounded. This delay was put to good use, not only to make the shuttle system safer, but it also gave the entire Canadian aerospace community — government, industry and academia — a chance to really explore what was needed next to cement the country’s future in space.

A national space agency, just like the one which Phil Lapp and John Chapman had suggested more than two decades earlier, was finally created. A report had been issued just a few months before the Challenger accident urging the formation of the new agency, but not everyone was happy with the idea of the government being “at the wheel” of every space project. However, since almost all of the funding came from Ottawa, it seems the plan was inevitable once so many projects were placed on hold.

Almost immediately political friction took hold when Ottawa and Montreal both lobbied to be the host city for the new space agency.  The science community urged that the new agency be set up with “field centres” following the same model as NASA. This would allow places like Churchill Falls to continue to operate and would spread the work around the country. But by May of 1989 the site had been chosen by the Mulroney government for the new agency to be built in St Hubert Quebec.

Dusk falling outside the main rotunda of the John H. Chapman Space Centre in St. Hubert Quebec. The CSA headquarters is named in honour of John Herbert Chapman, a pioneer of the Canadian space program and author of the 1967 report on “Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada,” also known as the “Chapman Report,” which has served to guide Canadian space activities ever since. Photo c/o CSA.

In the meantime SPAR’s Canadarm would return to flight and SPAR began to pursue a contract to build the next generation of robotic arms for the proposed space station.

As early as 1959 NASA, the US Army and the USAF had been issuing contracts for space station studies. All the way through to the early 1980s there had never been much thought given to international cooperation on the many dozens of proposals. It would not be until the Reagan era that the opportunity would arrive for other nations like Canada to get involved, and it was with the collapse of the Soviet Union’s grip on its client states, beginning in Poland in 1989, that it was decided by the US government that cooperation with the Soviets might be a way of keeping the peace.

The end of 1988 saw the space shuttle return to flight and one of the most important missions which had been sitting in storage was the giant Hubble Space Telescope. It would be successfully launched from the shuttle cargo bay in April 1990, but almost immediately the operators of the telescope knew that there was something wrong.

A tiny flaw in the main mirror had rendered the multi-billion dollar instrument myopic. The only way to save the whole program was to send another shuttle to catch the massive telescope by using the Canadarm to pull it into the shuttle’s protective bay and make an in-flight repair. It would be the most audacious space repair mission since the Skylab debacle of the early 1970s. It would have been impossible without the Canadarm.

But a year before the repair could take place Dr Roberta Bondar became Canada’s first female astronaut. Bondar would be a payload specialist and participated in what was known as the “International Microgravity Laboratory.

An overachiever in the life sciences, Bondar and her crewmates completed “more than 100%” of their flight objectives and were able to work for a day longer than originally planned. Crystals, cells and plants all exposed to micro-gravity were returned to Earth, including proteins grown in space.

Bondar would not fly again, but in November Steve MacLean would follow her into orbit participating in what would be one of the most successful years for the shuttle program, with eight flights in less than 12 months. MacLean’s flight also included a raft of biology experiments but also included the CANEX 2 experiment package. One of the experiments on liquid metal diffusion originated at Queen’s University in Kingston.

Overview of the Canadian Experiments (CANEX-2). Screen shot c/o NASA.

Just as the Canadarm was performing its most famous task and saving the Hubble Space Telescope things started to slide sideways for SPAR. In 1987 SPAR had become prime contractor for Canada’s involvement in the International Space Station and MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) had been brought on board to handle the software. That same year was also when SPAR and MDA combined forces on the new SAR satellite, RADARSAT.

In July 1992 the shareholders of MDA rejected a $50M buy-out offer from SPAR. In 1993 a new management structure at SPAR began to cause oversight issues. The company had grown into a behemoth with aerospace work only accounting for 41% of the revenues. The failed takeover of MDA allowed for another suitor, Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) of Dulles, to make a better offer just a few years later. In September 1995 MDA became a wholly owned subsidiary of Orbital.

This was the beginning of the end for SPAR. Canada’s largest space contractor was on the way out. 

Robert Godwin.

Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series “The NASA Mission Reports” and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called “2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey” about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Last Week, “‘Spar’s Canadarm, George Klein, Ernie Groskopfs and Working Astronauts plus the Mulrony Gov’t Divests its Aerospace Assets,” in part thirteen of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History.

Next Week, “More RADARSAT, More Astronauts, the CSA’s Growing Importance, the ‘Airbus Affair,’ MacDonald Dettwiler & the ‘Canadarm,’” as part fifteen of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History” continues.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

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Part 13: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

Posted June 8, 2017 by Chuck Black

Spar’s Canadarm, George Klein, Ernie Groskopfs and Working Astronauts plus the Mulrony Gov’t Divests its Aerospace Assets

Graphic c/o Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
         By Robert Godwin

Canada’s aerospace raison d’être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.

In April 1981 NASA’s space shuttle flew into space for the first time and SPAR’s Canadarm was ready for deployment. The team at SPAR had managed to navigate many problematic issues; not least an argument over who should pay what taxes on the equipment as it was shipped across the border into the United States.

The remarkable machine would fly into space aboard the second shuttle mission in November 1981 and would do its first work in space four months later. It had been almost 20 years since the first notions of a Storable Tubular Extendible Member (STEM) derived robotic arm had been suggested at de Havilland.

George Klein in 1980, holding a prototype STEM alongside part of his 1961 patent application for a “coilable extensible apparatus,” which outlined how the STEM worked. As outlined in the August 24th, 2014 post, “1970 – “STEM” Space Manipulator Arm – George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian),” the idea for a giant Canadian robot arm, “came first from the Toronto area engineering firm DSMA-Acton, which had been inspired by its work on robotics for the nuclear industry, But it took a consortium of interests and expertise to make it a reality, NRC was the lead, but NASA was convinced to entertain the idea because of Spar’s success and track record in the production and delivery of STEM and because of the expertise of firms like RCA Canada Ltd.” Photo and graphic c/o

Due to his remarkable aptitude for designing gearing George Klein had been brought back out of retirement by the National Research Council (NRC) and sent into SPAR as Chief Consultant on Gear Design. SPAR and NASA had quickly recognised the inventor’s value and his original idea was soon adapted to a multitude of purposes. One of the SPAR engineers, Ernie Groskopfs, who had devised and patented an assortment of new methods for deploying STEMs had also played an integral role in the Canadarm project.

One of the many consequences of Canada’s involvement in the space shuttle program was an agreement to fly Canadians into space aboard the orbiting laboratory. While it would always be Americans in the cockpit, there was now an opportunity for scientists and engineers to work on a huge array of new experiments in the mid-deck and aboard the Spacehab (a small pressurized module which fit into the cargo bay) and later the much larger Spacelab. By the end of 1982 it was announced that foreign nationals would soon be flying as mission specialists.

On June 8th 1983 the space shuttle prototype, named Enterprise, flew in the skies above Ottawa on the back of NASA’s 747 carrier plane. On the same day it was officially announced that a Canadian would be amongst those chosen to go into space.

The 1983 class of Canadian astronauts. Back row, from left to right: Ken Money, Marc Garneau, Steve MacLean and Bjarni Tryggvason. Front row: Robert Thirsk and Roberta Bondar. Photo c/o CSA.

One of the first to apply was Ken Money, an aviation medicine expert based in Downsview Ontario. Money wanted to conduct a study of space sickness.  On July 14th 1983 advertisements were placed in 38 newspapers across the country inviting applications “from Canadian men and women to fly as astronauts on future Space Shuttle missions.”

Candidates were not given much time to think about it; their responses had to be received within three weeks. Evidently this didn’t cause any problem, with over 400 people applying in the first seven days.

By the time the application process was closed over 4300 people had applied for one of six possible positions. Ken Money’s immediate enthusiasm seems to have worked in his favour, garnering him one of the coveted spots, but then he never made it into space. The other five who would go on to become household names in Canada were Bjarni Tryggvason, Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar, Steve MacLean and Robert Thirsk.

US space shuttle Challenger landing at Kennedy Shuttle Landing Facility runway 33 on October 13th, 1984 during the STS-41g space shuttle flight. Canadian astronaut Garneau acted as second payload specialist for the flight. STS-41-G was also the third shuttle mission to carry a Canadian built IMAX camera on board. Film footage from the mission appeared in the 1985 IMAX movie “The Dream is Alive.”

Garneau would be the first chosen to fly, making his maiden voyage in October of 1984. His first flight couldn’t have been better suited to Canadian needs and interests.

Onboard the shuttle STS-41G was the “Office of Space and Terrestrial Applications” payload which was a complex system of earth observation instruments; including a Shuttle imaging radar, a large camera for cartography, an air pollution measuring instrument, and a feature identification and location experiment (FILE) for classification of surface materials. The crew also deployed the Earth radiation budget satellite which measured the amount of heat arriving and leaving planet earth.

If studying the Earth from space had been Canada’s raison d’être for a space program, Garneau’s flight fit right in. He would remain an active astronaut for another sixteen years, flying again in 1996 and 2000.

The success of the Space shuttle program almost immediately started to cut into Canada’s other aerospace projects. Scientists who had been launching Black Brant rockets on suborbital hops into the ionosphere were finding that the money for their research was now elsewhere – aboard orbiting observation satellites.

Churchill rocket range in the early 2000’s. Only empty buildings and memories remain. Photo c/o Churchill Polar Bears/ Steve Seldon.

In 1985 the rocket research range at Churchill Falls in Manitoba was mothballed. Over 3500 rockets had streaked into the northern skies during its three decades of operation. It had finally become obvious to everyone in the aerospace sector that the government’s interests were still rooted in the most efficient way to communicate with and explore Canada’s remote regions. Space now held most of the cards.

Canadian astronauts would conduct experiments from the shuttle’s cargo bay and mid-deck, Canadian sensors would be on-board massive multi-million dollar satellites and Canadian communications satellites would be cemented into geosynchronous orbits. Canada would still need aircraft to support these roles, particularly when it came to watching things like pollution, fish stocks, forest fires, pack-ice, uninvited shipping in Canadian territorial waters; and of course they would still be needed for defence.

In 1980 the government had finally settled on the Douglas F-18 fighter as the aircraft which would now patrol Canada’s skies. It had nothing like the range of the Voodoo or the Arrow, but satellite surveillance had begun to fill the intelligence void.

As outlined in the August 19th, 1986 New York Times article, “Canadair to Be Sold To Bombardier Inc.,” the sale, “was part of the Government’s plan to sell state-run corporations that it believes could be better managed in the private sector. In January, the Government sold de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. to the Boeing Company for $155Mln CDN.” Screenshot c/o NYT.

After years of consolidation and government oversight the Mulroney government came into power and by 1986 had set about divesting the government’s aerospace assets.

That year, a family owned business that could barely have been more Canadian, having begun its storied history selling snowmobiles, paid $120Mln CDN for Canadair despite the government having poured $1.2Bln CDN into the company, which at that time was the largest corporate loss in Canadian history.

That same year the Mulroney government sold de Havilland/Avro to Boeing for $90Mln CDN, a $65Mln CDN forgivable note and $500Mln CDN in promised Federal loans.

As the decade of the 1990s began, Canada’s expansive aircraft manufacturing industry was being distilled down to fewer and fewer companies.

Robert Godwin.

Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series “The NASA Mission Reports” and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called “2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey” about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Last Week, “The Cape Perry Spaceport, Gordon Shepherd, Hermes, the Battle for the Canadarm and SeaSat,'” in part twelve of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History.

Next Week, “Challengers Destruction, the Hubble Space Telescope, a New HQ for the CSA, Spar Flounders & Orbital Sciences Buys MDA,” as part fourteen of “150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History” continues.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

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Part 12: A History of the Canadian Space Program – Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

Posted June 4, 2017 by Chuck Black

Lessons and Conclusions

Astronauts Wanted Part Episode 4. Part 1. Graphic c/o CSA.

By Graham Gibbs & W. M. (“Mac“) Evans

This paper, first presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014, is a brief history of the Canadian space program, written by two of the major participants.

We could write a book about Canada’s perspectives on international cooperation and the factors that have contributed to our unquestionable success and thus the lessons we have learned. Fortunately they can be succinctly summarized.

The Canadian Space Program, because it is and always has been a modestly budgeted program, has learned that leveraging international cooperation is a necessity, not a luxury.

But we are not free-loaders. We begin at home by focusing on our science and technology expertise.

That is to say we do not branch out into entirely new technologies for which we have no heritage. An example would be the government’s conscious decision in the 1974 Canadian Policy for Space to not develop a launcher capability beyond our sounding rocket program.

We pursue a so-called “niche strategy” where we focus on what we do well and importantly, for our partners, where we can add real value.

Our success, we therefore suggest, is based on the fact that we recognize we are a small space faring nation, especially with respect to most of our partners, and we do not try to pretend otherwise. We focus on areas where Canada excels so as to develop world-class expertise to be a “desired and valued partner.” We achieve this through deliberate and focused investments in research and development (e.g. the CSA’s Space Technology Development Program that mostly supports industry and university researchers).

We also strive for a “Space Team Canada” approach that includes close engagement with other government departments, academia, industry and the public. And, it perhaps goes without saying this includes aligning our space program with Canadian government national and foreign policy objectives.

The criteria for Canada’s participation in space exploration is a good example of Canadian Space policy at work:

  • Canada’s contribution(s) should be: “Early,” that is we should be involved at the beginning; “Scalable,” that is if we were to contribute a rover, for example, it might start as a small rover but the technology would be such that it could be scaled up into a larger rover; and “Transferable,” which is to mean that the technology would be applicable to say Lunar and Mars exploration.
Graphic c/o ISECG.
  • Canada’s contributions should also be “Critical,” “Visible” and “Welcomed,” since without these attributes our partner(s) may not want us and we would not be able to secure public support for the investment.
  • Potential contribution(s) to a space exploration program need to be 
  • Visible to the Canadian public, 
  • Meet Canadian science goals. 
  • Use Canadian enabling/heritage technologies, 
  • Develop sustainable core competencies. 
  • Result in Canadians flying in space and 
We have used space exploration as an example but these criteria can be, and are applied to, decisions made on contributions to our partners programs in any of the space disciplines for which we have an interest.
In conclusion, Canada has had a pragmatic, flexible and dynamic approach to its space program to date. Our space policies have kept pace with the rapid changes in technology and the evolving international environment. This agility has been a hallmark of the program.
Two major international events will affect the Canadian space program in the short-term. These are the major thrust of the international space community for the robotic exploration of Mars, and the increased emphasis on global security. 

Canada has a unique set of skills and experience to be a major contributor to both of these. Our space robotics capability is second to none in the world and would be of considerable advantage in the exploration of Mars. Our radar satellite capability is also second to none in the world and should be of interest to those concerned about national security, sovereignty and contribution to global security. The CSA, our space industry and our scientific community are actively working to make these possibilities a reality.
In the longer run, new technologies will permit the use of small and micro satellites at much lower costs than today’s satellites. These technologies, coupled with new technologies for communications and earth observation will allow Canada to pursue at substantially lower cost, new applications of space to meet national needs. This should result in a larger number of satellite launches than has been the case in the past.
By all measures, the Canadian space program has been a remarkable success. Over the five decades of the program: 
  • Canadians (on a per capita basis) have become one of the largest users of space systems in the world. 
  • Canadian space technology has become essential to the everyday life of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. 
  • Our space industry has developed an enviable record for innovation and reliability and has become the most export oriented space industry in the world. 
  • Our Canadarm technology is recognized the world over as an icon for Canada’s high technology capabilities. 
  • Our astronauts are a source of immense pride among Canadians.
All of this has been possible because of the efforts of a number of visionary Canadians and a succession of governments willing to support innovation to meet the needs of its citizens. 

Canada has shown an outstanding capability to develop innovative and practical space policies to take advantage of the rapid progress in technology and the changing international environment. Our industries and scientists have developed world class capabilities that are second to none.
Canada has the skills, experience and capabilities in government, academia and industry to continue to be a world leader in the development and application of space technology to meet the needs of Canadians and indeed, all humanity.
Graham Gibbs & Mac Evans. Photos c/o MyCanada & CSA.
Graham Gibbs represented the Canadian space program for twenty-two years, the final seven as Canada’s first counselor for (US) space affairs based at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. 

He is the author of “Five Ages of Canada – A HISTORY from Our First Peoples to Confederation.”

William MacDonald “Mac” Evans served as the president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from November 1991 to November 2001, where he led the development of the Canadian astronaut and RADARSAT programs, negotiated Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) and contributed to various international agreements that serve as the foundation of Canada’s current international space partnerships.

He currently serves on the board of directors of Vancouver, BC based UrtheCast and as a member of the Federal government Space Advisory Board.

Last Week: The 2000’s, Chris Hadfield, Canadarm 2, Dextre, MOST, SciSat, CloudSat, Telesat, RADARSAT-2 and Emerson’s Shadow,” in part eleven of “A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets.”

To start at the beginning: Check out part one, “Abstract, Introduction & The 1950’s” of “A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets.

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