Thursday, January 23, 2014

Canadian Space Industry Shrinks While International Markets Grow!

          by Chuck Black

A report released Tuesday through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), strongly suggests that Canada can no longer "punch above its weight" in the fast growing, international commercial space marketplace.

According to the 2012 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report, the 140 companies and organizations listed in the Canadian Space Directory generated $3.327Bln CDN in revenue in 2012, down from $3.483Bln in 2011.

Overall, Canadian domestic revenues decreased by 4.1% and Canadian space industry exports decreased by 4.9% during the period covered by the report.

But another report, released eight months earlier by a US based advocacy group called the Space Foundation, concluded that there was an overall 6.5% increase in international space focused products and services revenue for 2012, and a larger 11% increase in revenues generated from commercial infrastructure and support industries during the same period.

In essence, while the overall international markets for space focused products were growing in 2012, the Canadian share of those revenues was shrinking, both as a percentage of the overall market and in absolute terms.

As outlined in the April 9th, 2013 post "Global Space Economy Now $304B Annually: 2013 Space Report," the 2013 Space Report, an annual publication from the Space Foundation, a US based advocacy and research group, reported that, "the global space economy grew to $304.31 billion in commercial revenue and government budgets in 2012, reflecting growth of 6.7 percent from the 2011 total of $285.33 billion. Commercial activity, space products and services and commercial infrastructure, drove much of this increase."

It's well known that Canadian companies, focused on robotics, imaging, science experiments and telecommunications technologies, typically possess no spaceports or "commercial" infrastructure of their own. Perhaps that could account for the differences between the domestic Canadian market in 2012 and the demonstrated international opportunities. Maybe we're just poorly positioned to take advantage of these new areas of growth.

Or maybe not. After all, this isn't the first time that Canadian capabilities in this area have been questioned.

As outlined in the September 11th, 2011 post "Canadian Space Competitiveness Falls Behind India Reports International Study," the 2011 Futron Space Competitiveness Index, a yearly ranking of the underlying government, human capital and industry drivers of aerospace competitiveness, dropped its estimate of Canadian competitiveness from sixth to seventh behind India. The index cited government delays with the development of policy related to what was then called a "long-term space plan" (it's now called a "10 year plan," but still hasn't been released), plus an erosion of Canadian robotics expertise as the drivers for its decision. 

The index further stated that Canada was also losing ground to other big space and aerospace players and was being challenged hard by Brazil, China, Israel, Japan and South Korea.

But on the upside, the new CSA report did include a forward from CSA president Walt Natynczyk and at least one positive component. The space industry has recovered almost 500 full time jobs since 2011, for a total of 7993, after losing 792 positions in the 2010 report.

What would Chris Hadfield say about that!


  1. I find there are many barriers that prevent successful Canadian competetion in this area. If you or I want to be a part of a joint US/Canadian team for anything it is a rigerous process, whereas for someone from Alaska... Also, why aren't we utilizing the praries for even ONE launch site or test site for research into X-Prize or anything? This government has shown itself to be an enemy of science and nationalistic projects in general IMO and I think these numbers show a part of that larger problem. I hope private enterprise finds ways around these issues that seem to be choking out our national efforts soon.

  2. Also, if I know astronaut interviews, that question would never reach his ears :P


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