by Chuck Black
It's been a busy week for the Canadian space industry with a retired astronaut sourcing out middle east space contracts, Russia threatening additional economic sanctions to "keep the country's space and rocket industry afloat" and Earth imaging company UrtheCast finally offering up Earth images of our home and native land.
|Hadfield abroad. Photo c/o Donald Weber / Crown Prince Court/ Abu Dhabi.|
Here are a few of the items currently being tracked by the Commercial Space blog:
- Chris Hadfield's recent trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hasn't driven much notice in Canada, but it seems to have made him a household name in the tiny, but affluent, Persian gulf state. The government owned English language daily newspaper, the National, seems to have taken a particular interest in the stalwart Canuck, with stories like the July 22nd, 2014 article "Canadian astronaut offers to help UAE’s space aspirations" and the July 23rd, 2014 article "Canadian astronaut describes life in space" being offered up to an approving readership. As outlined in the July 27th, 2014 National article, "UAE’s space programme could inspire innovation," Hadfield, space advocate Robert Zubrin and quite a number of others have made recent visits to the UAE in an effort to access the 20Bln AED ($5.95Bln CDN) which the UAE has announced is available as part of its plans to build a national space agency and send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2021.
|Russian president Putin pointing. Photo c/o Wikipedia.|
- Of course, some national governments aren't quite so pleased with recent Canadian activities and among these would be the Russian government under president Vladimir Putin, which last week banned food imports from nations which had previously instituted sanctions over Russian activities in the Ukraine. As outlined in the August 7th, 2014 CBC news article, "Russia sanctions show Putin's 'short-sighted desperation,' Canada says," the fast expanding trade war now includes meat, fish, milk, fruit and vegetables from Canada, the US and the European Union. Even worse for the Canadian space industry, as outlined in the August 7th, 2014 RIA Novosti article "Russia to Draft Import Substitution Program for Space Industry," the Russian government is crafting an "import substitution plan" to find domestic replacements for technology imports expected to be lost by Russia as a result of trade sanctions. Of course, there is no current word on how this new plan would affect possible Canadian aerospace activities in Russia although, as outlined in the July 31st, 2014 Space News article "MDA Satellite Exports Feeling the Effects of Canada’s Tough Stance on Russia," Canadian firms are already being affected by sanctions. As covered in the April 28th, 2014 post "M3Msat and the Politics of Dancing in the Crimea," the Canadian government decided "not to proceed" with the planned June 2014 launch of a Canadian micro-sat, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, in protest over Russian actions in the Ukraine.
- On the other hand, sometimes everything works out as it should. As outlined in the August 7th, 2014 Techvibes article, "UrtheCast Releases First Images of Canada from Space," the company has finally begun to release promotional images taken from the UrtheCast cameras on board the International Space Station (ISS). Although beset by challenges, the firm has earned recognition at the BC Technology Impact Awards as the "most promising pre-commercial technology" and last year was named one of the country's hottest innovative companies by the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX).
|Winnipeg, as seen from the ISS. Photo c/o UrtheCast.|