Monday, April 30, 2012

Canadian Space Advocates Connecting the Dots

     An article by Azam Shaghaghi

Geoff Languedoc.
CASI ASTRO connects the dots, and we are here to explore the dynamic of the paths where people come together’’ said Geoffrey Languedoc, the executive Director of the Canadian Astronautics and Space Institute (CASI) at the 16th CASI Astronautics Conference (ASTRO 2012) on April 26th at Fairmont Château Laurier in Quebec City.

He’s got a point. The conference, organized by CASI and focused around the theme of "Canadian space priorities going global," brought together several hundred Canadians, Americans, Chinese, Germans, Brits, Japanese and others from industry, academia and government in order to exchange views and talk about the global development of space in what's increasingly becoming a far more collaborative world.

During the three day event, many different aspects of space activities related to exploration, international relations, satellite earth observation for sustainable development, defense and security were discussed. The final program is available here, on the CASI website.

But for those of us who are interested in a little bit of context, here are some of the more notable casual comments, prepared statements and formal presentations:
  • Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steven MacLean, opened the Tuesday morning panel discussion on "Reconciling Domestic Priorities With International Opportunities" by providing an overview on CSA mission priorities which include safety, sovereignty, security for Canada and innovation in the international scale. The CSA president was also keen to mention existing international relationships with Russia, Japan, China, Europe (through the European Space Agency, where Canada is an associate member), and the developing Canadian relationships with emerging countries like Argentina and India.
CSA past President "Mac" Evans receiving the John H. Chapman Award from current CSA president Steve MacLean. In the background is a model of the Alouette 1.
  • At the end of the day, Dr. MacLean also helped to present the 2012 John H. Chapman Award of Excellence to William MacDonald ("Mac") Evans, a 34-year veteran of Canada's Federal public service, the key architect of the current Canadian space program and the third President of the CSA (after John Larkin Kerwin and Roland Doré). "It is beyond my expectation to receive this award" stated Mr. Evans, with his typical modesty. The John H. Chapman Award of Excellence was established in 2000 to celebrate and honor the members of the space community for the advancement of the Canadian space program.
John Olson.
  • John Olson, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Director of Strategic Analysis and Integration for the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, addressed the Tuesday  "Future of Space Exploration-Going Global" panel on the commercial side of the space and related it to the history of space programs, the current ISS budget and US space priorities. Following the panel, representatives from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and ESA gave presentations on their governments' priorities regarding space exploration.
Iain Christie.
  • According to Iain Christie, the President of the Neptec Design Group, "Canada should be more aware of space and defense (activities) not because it is something bad, but because there are in fact a lot of opportunities for business in this sector."  Mr. Christie, who is also the chair of the ASTRO`12 organizing committee, made those statements as part of the Wednesday morning "Space and Defence: A North American Perspective," panel. Other panelists included Major General Jay G. Santee who's responsibilities include providing policy advice and support to the US Secretary of Defense and Brigadier General Rick Pitre, the Director General of Integrated Force Development for Space (DG IFD) at the Department of National Defence. According to General Pitre, resiliency is needed in space policy documents and space acts over the coming years in order to allow for research opportunities and encourage the Canadian private sector to become engaged, particularity in the area of arctic communications and situational awareness.
The 2012 CASI ASTRO INO tour group.
ASTRO 2012 also offered many networking opportunities targeted specifically at students including the Wednesday morning "Talent Meets Market Breakfast" (sponsored by ABB Canada and billed as an exclusive event for students who wish to benefit from a meal shared with senior space industry professionals) and a technical tour of the Institut national d’optique de Québec (INO).

How the Canadian space industry has changed over the course of ten years, and CASI`s history from the beginning to IAC 2014 in Toronto are the topics being discussed in an upcoming article.

Stay tuned....

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