Monday, December 02, 2013

Industry Minister Responds to Emerson "Space" Recommendations

Industry Minister Moore. Photo c/o Canadian Press.
Industry Minister James Moore has finally provided a Federal government response to the second volume of the November 2012 arm's length, federally mandated Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies.

But while Federal initiatives derived from the first volume of the aerospace review (focused on the $27Bln annual Canadian aviation and aerospace industry) were substantial and included both a new $110Mln CDN Aerospace Technology Demonstrator Program (ATDP) plus an additional $1Bln CDN over seven years to maintain the ongoing Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI), it is unlikely that any of the initiatives currently on the table from volume two will provide an equivalent stimulus for the much smaller ($3.5Bln annually), but also much faster growing, Canadian space industry.

Happy days are here again! CSA President Natyzczyk now has a commitment from the government to "unchanged" overall funding and annual space advisory board meetings, which would include his boss, the Industry Minister.

In a December 2nd, 2013 speech made to attendees at the 2013 Aerospace Innovation Forum in MontrĂ©al, Moore committed the Conservative government to move forward with a variety of initiatives outlined in the December  2nd, 2013 Industry Canada press release, "Industry Minister James Moore Announces New Measures to Build on Canada's Proud History in Space." These will include:
  • A promise to maintain overall the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funding "unchanged and at current levels" which is certainly not equivalent to the aerospace review recommendation that "core funding be stabilized, in real dollar terms, for a 10-year period" and could be perceived as an erosion of funding once inflation is taken into account.
  • A commitment to double the current support for the Space Technologies Development Program, a CSA program to provide initial funds for breakthrough technologies "to reach $20 million annually by 2015–16." This amount is substantially less than requested by the aerospace review, which recommended an additional $10Mln per year over each of three consecutive years, for a total of $30Mln in new funding, in addition to the existing $5Mln annual budget (as per page 41 of volume two of the aerospace review).
  • The establishment of a "space advisory board" composed of industry leaders and chaired by CSA president Walter Natynczyk, with a mandate to report to the Industry Minister "annually." Terms of reference for the board have not yet been announced.
  • The promise that a "Space Policy Framework for Canada, which will guide Canada's strategic activities and future in space exploration, will be made public in 2014." As outlined in the February 10th, 2010 blog post: "Ottawa Citizen: Where did that Long Term Space Plan Go?" the last Canadian space plan was written in 2005, and industry has been clamoring for a new one ever since.
A number of items included within the second volume of the aerospace review were either not mentioned by Moore during his presentation or were touched upon only tangentially. These include:
  • A ongoing acknowledgement of procurement problems and a lack of direction within government in general and the CSA in particular with regard to "Canada's space program and its role in advancing national priorities" (Page 32 of the second volume of the aerospace review).
CSA HQ from the air..
  • A recommendation to narrow the CSA mandate to the point where it would no longer be a "policy-making body" or "directly involved in designing and manufacturing space assets purchased by the government." It would instead advise and support the Minister of Industry, act "as a technical supervisor" to project-specific committees and to the Minister of Public Works in order to help negotiate "co-operative agreements with other countries' space agencies," plus co-manage (along with the National Research Council) new space technology development. Under this recommendation, the CSA would continue to conduct its own research, operate its existing satellite inventory and maintain the Canadian astronaut program (Page 45 of the second volume of the aerospace review). 
  • A sense that the crop of current Canadian commercial space players has grown up "in an atmosphere of limited competition and in some cases, excessive reliance on government spending," with an acknowledgement that this needs to change (Page 26 of the second volume of the aerospace review).
    A possible future?
  • A recommendation for "encouragement" of commercial space activity. According to the report "some of these ideas may prove fanciful, but others may be visionary and produce tremendous profits for their proponents and the companies in which those proponents operate. The R&D support recommended previously (the CSA technology development program and others listed on page 41 of the second volume of the aerospace review) will help stimulate development of the most promising proposals, but its impossible to know with certainty whether a notion which appears unrealistic today might lead to tomorrows breakthroughs. Without endorsing specific speculative projects, public policies and programs can create the conditions for entrepreneurs and researchers to test and pursue creative approaches and, in so doing, jump start Canada's private space activity at a time when the global commercial space business is gaining momentum." (Page 43 of the second volume of the aerospace review).
  • Comments on the need to develop an independent launch capability in order to avoid "delays, operational complications and cost overruns," especially in the case of the growing small-sat marketplace (Page 26 of the second volume of the aerospace review).
Most of these points were last mentioned as part of the December 5th, 2012 post "What the Space Volume of the Aerospace Review Actually Says!"

It's a shame that we've forgotten them so soon. Lets hope the government also remembers what the aerospace review actually said when the final budget comes down next spring.

2 comments:

  1. Canada had better pay more attention to the grass roots level of General Aviation which is the foundation of the entire aviation industry world wide!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting comment, but as referenced in the article, the Canadian government has already responded to the aviation industry, and in a surprisingly generous fashion, with $1Bln CDN in new SADI credits and $110Mln in new ADTP credits as requested in the first volume of the aerospace review.

    Surely the Canadian space industry, is worth the far more modest recommendations contained within the second volume of the aerospace review.

    ReplyDelete

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