Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aggregation, Contextualization, Telsat, MDA, exactEarth and Stephen Harper


Regular readers will have no doubt noticed the recent addition of a ScoopIT aggregation feed (under the title "More Canadian Space News") to the top right column of this blog, just under the "Upcoming Events" link to our sister Space Conference News site. Hopefully these additional stories will help to convey the growing public interest in Canadian space activities.

Of course, some stories don't take well to aggregation (which is simply the collection of news from multiple sources into a single location for easy viewing). They instead require context and additional exposition to shake out some of the subtext and surrounding issues.

The Telstar 14R.
For those stories, here's a quick listing of items being tracked for context and additional exposition in future posts of the Commercial Space blog:
  • According to the January 25th, 2012 Ottawa Citizen post on "Working Capital," Canadian satellite operator Telesat is set to receive a large $132.7-million insurance payment for the defective Telstar 14R satellite. The satellite failed to deploy properly after launch in May 2012 and is is currently only rated as being capable of transmitting "40 percent of its broadcast capability" with operational lifespan reduced to twelve years from the originally projected fifteen. The insurance payment is slightly more than half of the total $260-million coverage on the satellite. 
  • However, other Canadian space systems businesses don't seem to be doing quite so well. For example, according to the January 26th, 2012 Montreal Gazette article "CCL Industries joins Gazette challenge picks," the portfolio manager for the Gazette's annual stock-picking challenge has decided to replace space systems icon MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) with CCL Industries, which supplies labels and specialty packaging for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and specialty food industries. According to the article, MDA shares have had no momentum since the company "announced plans last fall to buy back more than nine million of its shares." As outlined in the November 5th, 2010 Globe and Mail article "MDA sells real-estate arm once seen as key to growth" the company had initially intended to use the money made from the sale of its real estate division to fund the purchase of a US based space company in order to develop access to US markets. But with no suitable acquisition target available, the company eventually ended up returning half the money to investors, although the remainder is evidently available should a suitable target ever present itself.
  • Satellite AIS provider and Com Dev International subsidiary exactEarth has announced the release of a two-year archive of global maritime vessel locations, according to the January 20th, 2012 Digital Ship article "Global AIS archive launched." According to the article, the information provided will be a "totally unique historical record of global shipping covering every part of the world’s oceans" going back to July 2010. According to exactEarth President Peter Mabson, the data is a "true testament to our long-standing, and world-leading, operational capability in the satellite-AIS area." The data can be accessed using a selection of search criteria, including date and time range, geographical area, AIS message type, ship type and country flag.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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