Monday, March 17, 2014

BC Launch Facility Advocate Now Has Satellite Payload

          by Chuck Black

Dr. Redouane El Fakir. Photo c/o Kosta Prodanovic/ The Ubyssey.
An organization promoting the idea of a Vancouver Island based commercial spaceport has signed a three-year contract with the University of Victoria (UVic) to build three small satellites for Earth imaging.

The current plan even calls for launching one of the satellites from Vancouver Island.

According to the March 15th, 2014 Alberni Valley News article "Agency plans satellite launches from West Coast," BC based Space Launch Canada has signed a three-year agreement worth $840,000 CDN for the satellites, which will be constructed at the the UVic Centre for Aerospace Research. The program will be underwritten by a $420,000 grant from the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and is contingent on raising the remaining funds from private sources.

The article quoted Dr. Redouane El Fakir, the head of Space Launch Canada as stating that the satellites will be intended to take high-resolution pictures from space for educational purposes. “People will be able to take pics of something real time instead of using old pictures of something that may be different now,” Fakir said. “These won’t be military grade super high-resolution but they’ll be good for what they’re used for.”

According to Dr. Fakir, the plan is to only launch the first of the three planned satellites from another country. 

LV Odyssey, at a graving dock in Esquimalt, BC in 2007. Home port is Long Beach, CA. Photo c/o Wikipedia. 

The second launch is planned to take place off the west coast of BC utilizing facilities similar to those utilized by Sea Launch AG, a commercial spacecraft launch service that uses a mobile maritime platform (the LV Odyssey in concert with the assembly and control ship Sea Launch Commander) for offshore commercial launches.

The final satellite is expected to launch from a dedicated BC based facility. If everything goes according to plan, the first satellite could be completed within the year and launched within two.

Of course, nothing in this industry ever goes completely according to plan.

As outlined in the December 7th, 2010 post "Muslim Pride Supporting Canadian Spaceport," previous Space Launch Canada plans have included private investors from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates along with orbital telescopes and an unmanned Moon probe by 2015.

So lets be cautious for now and wait and see how the latest plan turns out.

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