|DEXTRE, with the Earth as background.|
- The head of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has gone on public record as expressing concern over the future of space research in this country, according to the March 9th, 2012 Ottawa Business Journal article "AAAS: Space budget cuts could lead to brain drain: CSA president." The comments were made by CSA President Steve MacLean at the recently concluded American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Vancouver and referred to the expected 14% or higher budget cuts his agency (with a FY 2012 budget of $424.6 million CDN according to Wikipedia) will likely need to implement when the next Federal budget is released on March 29th. Left unsaid during the public discussions was the commonly held perception of Canadian space science, technology and engineering students that their first job after graduation will likely be in Europe or the US.
- Ottawa based Telesat, although possessing several times the annual budget of the CSA (and independent of overt government funding to help make ends meet) is seeking $2.55 billion in loans to refinance debt and pay a dividend to shareholders according to the March 9th, 2012 Postmedia News article "Telesat seeks loans totalling $2.55B."
- Richmond based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) announced during their quarterly conference call on February 28th, 2012 that the company would increase the semi-annual dividend payments to shareholders by 30% to counter flat financial results, according to the February 28th, 2012 Canadian Press article "MacDonald, Dettwiler increases semi-annual dividend payment by 30 per cent." MDA has also begun to lay off employees of the Brampton, Ontario robotics facility where the CanadArm and DEXTRE were built.
- Even Cambridge, Ontario based Com Dev International, presently flying high on the basis of several large recent contract wins and ongoing success with the exactEarth global vessel monitoring and tracking service, has just announced its intention to renew its normal course issuer bid through the facilities of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) according to the March 12th, 2012 Canadian News Wire press release "COM DEV Announces Normal Course Issuer Bid." A normal course issuer bid is a form of share buyback, normally performed by a company with excess cash assets wishing to bolster or stabilize its stock prices over the long-term.
Canada also possesses the unofficial capability to build almost anything needed in a space environment (especially sensor related and geomatics technologies but also including life sciences, medical technology, 3D manufacturing technologies and composite materials) or as part of the requirement for getting there (including micro-satellite launchers). This level of industry is certainly sustainable, given the CSA's projected future budgets, but it will be interesting to see how the various players (government and private) react to the many changes listed above, which have occurred or are about to occur over the next little while.
We live in interesting times.