Monday, April 24, 2017

More on Canada's "Next Top Astronauts," Canada's "Failure To Scale" & Is Our Space Agency "Muzzling" its Contractors?

          By Henry Stewart

There's nothing new under the sun and pretty much everything happening today is understandable when placed in the context of what's happened in the past. That's why this blog is currently running two historical series, by acknowledged Canadian experts, on "A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," and "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

Given that. and for the week of April 24th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

At least they're mostly not "striking a pose" or wearing heels. We're down to the "final seventeen," an important enough milestone to splurge on brown polo's and organize a group shot with the innovation minister (on the left, with his back facing the camera). A final decision on the two Canadian astronaut openings is expected to be announced sometime this summer. To view the complete April 24th, 2017 press conference, please click on the graphic above. Screenshot c/o CSA.
  • As the hot PR winds continue to blow, Federal minister of innovation Navdeep Bains has announced the "final seventeen" candidates completing for the two open slots in the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut corps. 
As outlined in the April 24th, 2017 Global News post, "Final candidates unveiled as Canada searches for 2 new astronauts," the finalists now include "twelve men and five women, roughly reflecting the ratio of men to women who applied to the program." A complete listing of the remaining seventeen candidates are available online on the CSA "Who are the astronaut candidates?," webpage.
The competition, being run by the CSA, began last year with over 3,700 applications received. 
That field was initially reduced (with much fanfare) to seventy-two, and then reduced again earlier this year to thirty-two candidates. The expectation is that the final two successful applicants will be chosen later on in the year, again with much fanfare.
As part of the presentation surrounding the latest unveiling, Minister Bains noted the $379Mln CDN the Federal government allocated to International Space Station (ISS) activities in 2016 (which covers costs through 2024 and was originally announced by the previous government), the $80Mln CDN the Federal government allocated to new space projects in 2017 and the ongoing activities related to the space working group, which began meeting just two weeks ago to assess potential, future space projects.
As outlined in the 2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities, published yearly by the CSA, the current CSA base budget (the amount of money required to keep CSA employees on staff and CSA buildings open and functioning even without any activities, exploration or science being undertaken) is $300Mln CDN annually.
The cover page of the April 2017 Impact Brief on "Canadian Tech Tortoises; Is a lack of spending on marketing and sales delaying fundraising?" Graphic c/o Impact Centre.

  • Are Canadian start-ups unable to scale into large corporations? A recent study from The Impact Centre at the University of Toronto seems to think so and might have even suggested a reason why.
As outlined in an April 24th, 2017 e-mail from Charles Plant, a senior fellow with the Impact Centre, "anecdotal evidence suggests that many Canadian technology companies wait until their products are launched before spending funds on crucial functions such as marketing and sales and that this practice is delaying growth and success in fundraising."
The key component missing from Canadian start-ups seems to be that "Canadian firms have significantly fewer employees in marketing and sales functions than US firms do," at least according to Plant.
Plant and his colleagues also found that, "even among the best funded firms, Canadian technology firms have 25% fewer marketing and sales employees than US based Unicorns do. This lack of emphasis on marketing and sales may be delaying and impeding rapid growth and our companies' ability to get funding to scale to world-class status."
The complete April 2017 report, under the title "Canadian Tech Tortoises; Is a lack of spending on marketing and sales delaying fundraising?" is available online at http://www.impactcentre.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/170421-Tech-Tortoises.pdf.  

A bipartisan reminder, courtesy of the April 30th, 2012 Ottawa Citizen Post, "Agency's Long-term plan years overdue," that the Canadian government space program has been drifting for decades, even as our private space sector activities took off. But at least we've been allowed to publicly assess our flaws, right? Well... Maybe not. Graphic c/o PressReader.

  • Has the CSA "muzzled" its contractors? The latest CSA request for proposal (RFP), posted on the Federal government Buy and Sell procurement website, suggests that it has.
As outlined on the April 24th, Buy and Sell posting, "Radio-Frequency (RF) Communication Contribution Concept Study (9F050-16-0974)," the CSA has issued an RFP for a single contract, "for an all-inclusive budget not to exceed $400,000.00 CDN (excluding any applicable taxes)" covering "potential solution for an RF communications contribution." 
The attachment to the solicitation document (CSA-DSTRF-SOW-0001) under the title, "Post-ISS Human Spaceflight Contributions – Deep Space Telecommunications (DST) RF Concept Study," goes into a little more detail on the nature of the work the CSA is contracting. 
As outlined in the document, the RFP is to help define concepts for "collaborative Beyond Low Earth Orbit (BLEO) Missions" as defined in the NASA global exploration road map, which is being developed by space agencies participating in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG). 
Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's good that our space agency is co-operating with others to generate useful plans for activities after the ISS winds down.
The main page of the ISECG website, a forum set up by 14 space agencies (including Canada's CSA) to "advance the Global Exploration Strategy through coordination of their mutual efforts in space exploration." Screenshot c/o ISECG.
But there sure seems to be some onerous restrictions on how CSA subcontractors can go about discussing their contributions to this program. 
As outlined on page twenty three of the main solicitation document under the title Communications Activity Coordination Process:
The contractor must coordinate with the CSA’s Directorate of Communications and Public Affairs all Communication Activities pertaining to the present contract. To this end, the contractor must:
  • As soon as the Contractor intends to organize a Communication Activity, send a Notice to the CSA’s Directorate of Communications and Public Affairs. The Communications Notice must include a complete description of the proposed Communication Activity. The Notice must be in writing in accordance with the clause Notice included in the general conditions applicable to the contract. The Communications Notice must include a copy or example of the proposed Communication Activity. 
  • The contractor must provide to the CSA any and all additional document in any appropriate format, example or information that the CSA deems necessary, at its entire discretion to correctly and efficiently coordinate the proposed Communication Activity. The Contractor agrees to only proceed with the proposed Communication Activity after receiving a written confirmation of coordination of the Communication Activity from the CSA’s Directorate of Communications and Public Affairs.
  • The Contractor must receive beforehand the authorization, approval and written confirmation from the CSA’s Directorate of Communications and Public Affairs before organizing, proceeding or hosting a communication activity. 
These clauses makes it essentially impossible for CSA subcontractors to talk to the public without either the formal approval of the CSA Directorate of Communications, unless they are willing to run the risk of becoming non-compliant with their CSA contract.
This is similar to the actions of the previous Stephen Harper conservative government as outlined in the November 6th, 2015 Huffington Post report, "Liberals Unmuzzle Canadian Scientists, Promise They Can Now 'Speak Freely.'"
It's also an activity the current Justin Trudeau Liberal government had insisted was done away with when they took office in 2015. 
Newly minted innovation minister Navdeep Bains at a press conference on Parliament Hill on November 6th, 2015 where he fulfilled a Liberal party campaign promise to allow government scientists and experts to comment on their work to the media and the public. Hopefully, he'll also do the same for our space agency. Photo c/o Adrian Wyld/CP.
Oddly enough, similar clauses are also included in other recent CSA documents posted on Buy and Sell, such as the April 19th, 2017 "Development of enabling space technologies (9F063-160953/A)" notice of proposed procurement (NPP) and the April 5th, 2017 "Dextre Deployable Vision System (DDVS) – Phases B/C and D (9F052-160487/A)" NPP. 
This blog has requested clarification on those contract clauses and the reasons for their inclusion in CSA documents and will update this post as new information becomes available. 
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Part 6: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

Bomarc Missiles, The "Prevailing Wisdom" of Unaware Politicians, Unemployed Avro Employees, NASA, Canadair, CAI & the Origins of Spar Aerospace





Bomarc. Photo c/o Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.
         By Robert Godwin

Canada's aerospace raison d'être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.

The Avro Arrow was to be replaced by a surface to air missile, built by Boeing in the United States, named the Bomarc.  The Bomarc was a liquid fueled interceptor with a static launching site and a limited range. It was also designed to be equipped with a nuclear warhead.

At the moment that Canada committed to this weapon for its defence, the prevailing wisdom was already changing in the United States and the Soviet Union, against the usefulness of static-site liquid fueled rockets. They were considered easy targets and they took too long to prepare for launch.

In the Soviet Union even rocket genius Sergei Korolev was struggling to convince Nikita Khrushchev that the rocket which had launched Sputnik was useful as a weapon. In England, Geoffrey Pardoe, one of the principal designers of Britain's Blue Streak was fighting a similar fight with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

However, in the United States dozens of contractors were still lining up to build missiles. The new technology of rockets was outpacing the social awareness of the politicians in charge of commissioning them.


At the exact time that 13,000 Avro employees went in search of employment, the United States government was looking for aerospace engineers to come and help its newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to put a man into space. Within weeks of the Avro lay-offs dozens of engineers headed south of the border and took up positions at NASA, McDonnell, Douglas, Boeing, Bell, Grumman and elsewhere. Many went back to England where they were employed by de Havilland and Hawker Siddeley.

The main beneficiary of this "brain drain" was NASA where people like James Chamberlin, John Hodge, William Carpentier, Len Packham, Owen Maynard and two dozen others took up positions in the fledgling American space program, often as department heads. Over the next ten years they would play an important role in putting humans on the moon.

Just four days after the cancellation of the Arrow, the Black Brant was fired for the first time on a test stand in Valcartier. The cancellation of Arrow represented something of a windfall for Canadair. The management at the Montreal based company now knew that it had another chance to bid on the construction of Canada's next generation of fighter aircraft. Canadair had flourished all through the 1950s building more than 1500 variants of the North American Aviation Sabre fighter. At about the same time de Havilland had been building the Grumman S2-F Tracker anti-submarine aircraft.

Sabres of 421 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force at RCAF Station Grostenquin, France in the 1950's. The Canadair Sabre was a jet fighter aircraft built by Canadair in Montreal, PQ under licence from North American Aviation. According to the wikipedia entry, "a variant of the North American F-86 Sabre, it was produced until 1958 and used primarily by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) until replaced with the Canadair CF-104 in 1962. Several other air forces also operated the aircraft." Photo c/o Canada's Air Forces, 1914–1999

The CAI barely acknowledged the huge loss of jobs at Avro and began to encourage more cooperation with the United States, both for fighters and for space. In early March 1959, in response to the notion that Canada should join in on a Commonwealth space program, Herbert Ribner of the CAI expressed his opinion that Canada would be better to ally itself with the USA.

Less than a month after that, in April 1959, the Diefenbaker government announced its intentions to design a satellite to be launched by the United States. At first it was expected that the satellite would be built in the USA, with the stated intention that it would be used to probe the upper atmosphere from above. If it could be built and launched successfully the satellite was expected to reveal hitherto unforeseen insights into the nature of the ionosphere and perhaps resolve some of the problems with long range communications that had been dogging governments for generations. Two weeks later the British government announced its intention to follow Canada's lead and launch its own space program with the help of the United States.

Canada's first real satellite was proposed by John Herbert Chapman of the NRC in Ottawa. Chapman knew that to be able to study the ionosphere from above, his satellite would need to operate in a frequency range that would require extremely long antennae. Chapman knew Phil Lapp, who was still at de Havilland's missile division in Downsview Ontario, so he contacted him and suggested that he visit the office of George Klein who worked near to Chapman at NRC. Klein had devised a clever device which could be used as an antenna but could also be packed into a very tight space. This so-called STEM antenna could be deployed without any overly complicated mechanisms. It was perfect for space projects.

The Canadian built STEM antenna used in the Alouette-1 satellite. The compact, flat, but flexible metallic bar unrolls and bends inward to become a rigid cylinder able to be used as a satellite antenna.  Photo c/o Canadian Science and Technology Museum (CSTM) collection #1992.0357.00.

Klein was another graduate of the University of Toronto. He was born in Hamilton in 1904 and by the time he was 39 he had already earned an MBE from King George. Klein had an uncanny knack for invention and in July of 1951 he had been returning from a trip to England aboard the Cunard ship Franconia when he had what was perhaps his greatest idea.

Evidently Klein liked to roll his own cigarettes and it was while standing on the deck of the Franconia he rolled up a cigarette paper and had a revelation. It had occurred to him that he could make a similar roll-up device out of metal which might be a useful remedy to a problem that he had been given to solve.

What was needed was an antenna which could be dropped out of an aircraft over rugged terrain, or even water, and be used to send back data. Working with another NRC genius named Harry Stevinson, Klein concocted a workable device which would ultimately lead to the black box concept seen in most of today's modern aircraft.

Lapp studied Klein's invention and took it back to de Havilland where the engineers went to work to make a version that would be long enough for Chapman's satellite. This innocuous device would become so successful it would go on to create an aerospace industry behemoth – SPAR Aerospace. 
Robert Godwin.
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Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.
He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  
His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.
Last Week, "The International Geophysical Year, the Avro Arrow & Jetliner, Lapp, Stehling, Bull & Blue Streak" in part five of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

Next Week, "Canada's First Satellite, the F104 "Widowmaker," the Hawker P1127 (which eventually became the Harrier) and More Politics" as part seven of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History" continues.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Part 6: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

The 1980's, A "National Space Agency," Canadarm's Rollout, The Second Three Year Space Plan & Canada's First Astronauts






Scan c/o Globe and Mail.
By Graham Gibbs & W. M. ("Mac") Evans

This paper, first presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th - October 3rd, 2014, is a brief history of the Canadian space program, written by two of the major participants.

In late 1979 and early 1980 the Ministry of State for Science and Technology (MOSST) and the Air Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) independently analyzed the existing approach to space in Canada and both concluded that there were weaknesses that limited the scope and benefits of the program. 

Both also concluded that correction of these deficiencies was essential to the more efficient and effective use of the government’s space resources. The AIAC argued strongly for the formation of a national space agency. 

In response to these concerns, the Prime Minister in July 1980 assigned to MOSST “the leadership role with respect to space policy and development” and transferred responsibility for the Interdepartmental Committee on Space (ICS) from the Minister of Communications to the Minister of MOSST. Thus, in 1980, MOSST became the lead agency in the areas of space research and development, policy development, and coordination of space activities among government departments and agencies.

In April 1981, John Roberts, the Minister of State for Science and Technology announced a three-year space plan for Canada (1981/82 to 1983/84). This was the first time that a consolidated space plan had been considered by the government. The plan was aimed at building upon Canada’s strengths to use space for communications and science, while at the same time developing a major new thrust in the area of remote sensing. 

As outlined in the April 9th, 1981 United Press International (UPI) post, "Science Minister John Roberts Announced an Increase in Federal Funding for Space Research," Canada's first three year space plan was part of a proposal to centralize Federal space activities into a single agency, while also providing a funding increase for space and other areas of scientific research in order to assist with moving the plan forward. Roberts proposed a $64Mln CDN increase (to $260Mln CDN) for space research, along with a further increase of $200Mln CDN (to $1.5Bln) in all other areas of Federally funded scientific research and development. Screenshot c/o UPI archives.  

More than 60% of the new funding of $64Mln CDN was dedicated to remote sensing projects including a new basic R&D program to give Canada the technological and industrial competence to develop and establish a remote sensing satellite carrying a synthetic aperture radar (which eventually became known as RADARSAT). In making his announcement, Mr. Roberts indicated that it was the government’s intention to update the three year space plan every year.

During this period, Canada also delivered the first of what would become multiple Canadarm's to NASA. A post (unfortunately, now deleted) on the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) website described very eloquently the moment that Canadarm sprung into the consciousness of people everywhere in the world:
The morning of Friday, November 13, 1981, yielded a great emotional moment of pride for all Canadians. Shortly past 10:00 a.m. EST on that date, a majestic sight was broadcast on every television screen around the world. 
Through the aft window of shuttle Columbia, a video camera operated by the two STS-2 astronauts, Commander Joe Engle and Pilot Richard Truly had begun to transmit the first images of the deployed Canadarm. 
The arm, bent in an inverted V shape position, shined against the jet-black background of space, under a milky blue portion of the earth. The Canada wordmark with the red maple leaf flag prominently displayed on the upper arm boom of the Canadarm were a proud and clear statement about Canada’s official contribution to the Space Shuttle program. Canadarm quickly became the icon around the world for Canada’s high technology capabilities. 
The importance of the Canadarm to the Shuttle Program is indicated by the fact that this first flight of the arm took place on just the second Shuttle flight.

In December 1981, Mr. Roberts announced the government’s second three-year space plan (1982/83 to 1984/85) that in essence added one more year to the previously announced plan. This new plan increased the government’s expenditures on space for these three years by 38% and included Canadian participation in the L-SAT Communications Satellite Program of ESA (justified on the grounds that it would support the prime contractor policy) and project definition studies for a new communications satellite program (MSAT) to provide communications services to mobile users anywhere in Canada.

In 1982, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the flight of Alouette I, NASA extended an invitation for Canada to fly its own astronauts on the Shuttle. This offer was clearly seen as a “thank you“ to Canada for providing the Canadarm.

The government recognized immediately the significance of this offer and National Research Council (NRC), as the only organization in the government with human space flight experience, was assigned responsibility to establish the Canadian Astronaut Program Office.

The NASA offer was for two payload specialist flights, but NRC had ambitions to ensure Canada would be ready for additional flight opportunities, including flights to the space station that was on the drawing boards at NASA. In July, 1983 NRC placed an ad in Canadian newspapers seeking candidates.

A 1983 help wanted ad. Image c/o Ron Riesenbach's Blog.

Canada’s first six astronauts were announced in December, after a country-wide competition involving more than 4400 applicants. Ten months later, in October 1984 Marc Garneau became the first Canadian to fly in space. A little over a year later, the Shuttle that had taken Marc into orbit exploded on launch killing all seven astronauts on board.

It is interesting to note that Canada entered the human space flight arena primarily to support the Canadian Space industry. There was no Canadian user need for either the Canadarm or the Astronauts, but the space industry needed a major program to follow-on to CTS.

But public reaction to the Canadarm and the astronaut programs was so positive and so strong that these one shot efforts created the policy imperative to make human space flight a permanent part of the Canadian Space Program and would lead eventually to the creation of the Canadian Space Agency.
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Graham Gibbs & Mac Evans. Photos c/o MyCanada & CSA.
Graham Gibbs represented the Canadian space program for twenty-two years, the final seven as Canada’s first counselor for (US) space affairs based at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. 

He is the author of "Five Ages of Canada - A HISTORY from Our First Peoples to Confederation."

William McDonald "Mac" Evans served as the president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from November 1991 to November 2001, where he led the development of the Canadian astronaut and RADARSAT programs, negotiated Canada’s role in the International Space Station (ISS) and contributed to various international agreements that serve as the foundation of Canada’s current international space partnerships.

He currently serves on the board of directors of Vancouver, BC based UrtheCast.

Last Week: "Winding up the 1970's, The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Spar Aerospace, MacDonald Dettwiler, a Seminal 1974 "Canadian Policy for Space" & the Canadarm," in part five of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets."

Next Week: "More on the 1980's" as part seven of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," continues.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Space Advisory Committee Members Announced: Various Stakeholders Release Independent Assessments, Just in Case

          By Chuck Black

With almost no fanfare in either the mainstream media or amongst the Federal government, but with a great deal of confusion from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), the Federal government department tasked with administering its activities. the members of the long awaited space advisory board were finally announced last Tuesday evening.

Industry minister James Moore at the 2014 Canadian Aerospace Summit and his successor, innovation minister NavDeep Bains at the 2016 edition of the same event. As outlined in the November 19th, 2014 post, "Industry Minister Moore Announces Space Advisory Board Members," the membership of the space advisory board was long-awaited even in 2014, when Moore appointed Colonel Chris Hadfield, retired general and former CSA president Walt Natynczyk and others to the original committee. However, the 2014 board never issued a report and so the search for a new board was announced by innovation minister Bains in November 2016 at the 2016 Aerospace Summit. The creation of a space advisory board was one of the recommendations of the November 2012 Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (or "Emerson Report") which was presented to another industry minister, Christian Paradis, in November 2012. Photo's c/o Chuck Black & Brian Orlotti.

As outlined in the April 18th, 2017 Government of Canada news release, "Government of Canada renews Space Advisory Board," the new board, chaired by Dr. Marie Lucy Stojak, the Director of the Summer School on Management of Creativity in an Innovation Society at HEC Montréal, will:
... engage with Canadians to develop a new vision for Canada’s space sector and define key elements of a strategy that will be launched this summer. The advisory board’s input will inform the strategy, which will focus on using space to drive broader economic growth and innovation, while inspiring the next generation of space scientists.
The other committee members include:

A reminder that one of the real issues currently preoccupying  the Canadian government is whether it should continue  supporting at least one Canadian based contractor capable of building large, multi-function Canadian military satellites like RADARSAT-2 and the upcoming RADARSAT Constellation or open future competition to lower cost, international bids. The March 29th, 2017 SatCom Frontier post, "Commercial Space Operators to Canada; 'We're Here and We can Help,'" argues that large, international satellite providers like Intelsat General Corporation are able to assist with complex military programs like the proposed Enhanced Satellite Communication Project (ESCP). For a contrary view on this issue, its worth taking a look at the April 9th, 2017 post, "Part 4: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," which focused on "the 1970's, "Equal Access" to Communications, "Improved Industrial Capability" and the Hermes Communication Satellite" and was even co-written by one of the new members of the current space advisory board. Graphic c/o Intelsat General Corporation.

The new members replace others appointed by the previous government to the same board in 2014. That board never issued a public report or held any public meetings.

The new board is expected to engage in a process similar to the methodology employed during the "massive" review of Federal science funding which wound up last week.

As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 post, "'Massive' Review of Federal Science Funding Finally Released; Will Likely Soon 'Drop Down the Memory Hole,'" that review seems to have achieved less than stellar results and might not be a good model to emulate.

The only real surprise expected to come out of this review (and how's that for irony) could be an acknowledgement that foreign companies like Airbus and Intelsat General Corporation might soon be able to bid on large Canadian space projects.

This is especially likely given the inclusion of Pley and Tovee on the board, although the debate on this particular issue originated in the early days of Canada's space efforts.

Some organizations are willing to lobby the Federal government even without the bully pulpit provided by the space advisory board. An example would by the 8th Joint Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS) and Space Resources Roundtable, which will be held in conjunction with the 2017 Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) Convention in Montreal, PQ and promises "major announcements" from international space mining companies. Event organizers, such as Deltion Innovations CEO Dale Boucher have long advocated the use of tax credit system currently used in the mining, to grow the Canadian space industry. Boucher was last profiled in the April 10th, 2016 post, "Deltion Innovations Receives Gov't Funding to Develop Multi-Tool for Space Mining; Will Anyone Buy It?" For more on the mining industry and how it could drive space exploration, check out the July 30th, 2012 CSCA submission to the Aerospace Review, "Using Tools from the Mining Industry to Spur Innovation and Grow the Canadian Space Industry." Graphic c/o Deltion Innovations.

Besides, as recently as a few years ago, Canada had two domestic firms capable of building large satellites.

However, as outlined most recently in the April 19th, 2017 post, "American MDA Subsidiary Promotes "DEXTRE" for US as NASA RESTORE-L Satellite Servicing Budget Slashed," Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) is currently hunting US government and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracts, which subjects the company to many of the same US export licencing regulations that delayed the launch of RADARSAT-2 for almost seven years, and currently causes concern among those responsible for developing Canadian policies relating to northern sovereignty.

Also, in February 2016, common shares of Cambridge, Ontario based COM DEV International were de-listed from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) as the iconic Canadian company finished up its final task of becoming a subsidiary of US conglomerate Honeywell.

However, nothing is ever certain in politics or in political committees. Board member Evans has often argued publicly for a policy of "capacity building" which would favor specific Canadian companies with additional funds and tax benefits to allow them to compete with large foreign multinational competitors, who typically also receive subsidiaries from their national governments.

Evans argues that the creation of a domestic space industry outweighs the up-front costs associated with "capacity building," and supports the growth of domestic expertise and industry.

The Canadian Senate isn't waiting for the space advisory committee to issue a report when it can issue its own. As outlined in the April 19th, 2017 Space News post, "Report: Canada should work with U.S. to protect satellites as “critical infrastructure,” a report from the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Security and Defence and Security advocates the designation of "satellites and radar installations as critical infrastructure and seek ways to secure the full spectrum of all critical infrastructure assets against significant threats, including electromagnetic pulse, by 2020 in partnership with the United States and other countries." The article notes that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has long been advocating this approach. Screenshot c/o Space News.

Support for the new space advisory board, at least among the Federal government departments likely to be the most affected by any final report, seems tentative at best.

For example, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is in the midst of a series of announcements related to the development of technologies they expect to utilize over the coming years and have been doing this without any guidance from the space advisory board.

As outlined most recently in the April 3rd, 2017 post, "The Canadian Space Agency is "Very" Cautious About Its Post ISS Role," and the April 19th, 2017 More Space News post, "The Canadian Space Agency has just announced 15 more "priority technologies" it wants to develop," the CSA already has a strong, if also strongly conservative, sense of where it wants to go over the next decade.

There is also some question about whether the Department of National Defense (DND) is on-board with the new board.

As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 post, "An Update on NS Rockets, Intelsat Hunting for Canadian Gov't Satellite Contracts & More Ukrainian Lybid News," DND is pushing its own military space program, the proposed Enhanced Satellite Communication Project (ESCP), and the new project is likely out of the scope of the space advisory board mandate.

Professor Ram Jakhu, the associate director of the Centre for Research of Air and Space Law at McGill University, was one of two authors of the February 17th, 2017 "Independent Review of the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act." The report makes a number of recommendations directly relevant to the mandate of the new space advisory board but there was no plans from the Federal government to release the report for public comment. Fortunately, and as outlined in the April 20th, 2017 SpaceQ post, "Exclusive: A Review of Canada’s Remote Sensing Law Recommends Creating a New General Outer Space Act," that review is now open to public perusal. The report and other issues relating to it, will be the topics of discussion when Jakhu and the Centre hold the 5th Annual Manfred Lachs International Conference on Global Space Governance, which will be held in Montreal, PQ from May 5th - 6th. Hopefully, someone from the space advisory board will also be there. Photo c/o McGill University.

It's also worth noting that, while the space advisory board members are expecting to hold a series of town halls across the country to solicit feedback and assist with the development of useful policy, the secretariat supporting the space advisory board has so far refused to confirm or deny any activities the committee could possibly be conducting, except for one meeting taking place in Ottawa on Friday, April, 21st.

Here's hoping that they organize a few more meetings after that first one. There's a lot of data to collect and some actual activities culminating in a proper, publicly available report would certainly be an improvement over the last time.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An Update on NS Rockets, Intelsat Hunting for Canadian Gov't Satellite Contracts & More Ukrainian Lybid News

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of April 17th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

  • The CBC seems to be fascinated by Maritime Launch Services (MLS) and it's so far unfunded effort to place a Ukrainian built Cyclone-4M commercial rocket launching facility in Nova Scotia.
As outlined in the April 11th, 2017 CBC News post, "It is rocket science: New details revealed about proposed space port in Nova Scotia," the company "with plans to launch rockets from Nova Scotia has applied to lease 15 hectares of provincially owned land outside Canso, according to documents obtained by CBC News."
Evidently, the "272-tonne rockets will be constructed in Ukraine," then "loaded aboard a RoRo (Roll-On, Roll-Off) vessel and carried across the North Atlantic for delivery to the Port of Mulgrave and then barged to the Port of Canso as regulated by Transport Canada marine security requirement."
Others have reacted more cautiously. 
As outlined in the April 17th, 2017 Herald chronicle post, "Spaceport project hinges on moose count," the project still needs to show it can be built in compliance with local laws and requirements. 
An MLS Industry Day Meeting is planned for April 27th, 2017 in Antigonish, NS and will include a presentation by MLS president Steve Matier plus "invitation-only, one-on-one meetings."
According to the article: 
MLS is continuing to develop relationships with local and regional companies to support their construction and operations plans for the facility with the intention to hire locally as much as possible.
As outlined in the September 11th, 2016 post, February 6th, 2017 post, "Europe Will Fund the Prometheus Reusable Engine; Canada Pitched Cyclone-4's," MLS is essentially acting as a local agent for Ukrainian based Yuzhnoye, which designed the rocket originally for Brazil and needs at least $100Mln CDN to fund any NS based facility. 
MLS CEO John Isella even continues to work out of the Washington, DC Yuzhnoye office, where he also acts as the North American representative for Yuzhnoye business development.
It's worth noting that some space focused sites, like the Canadian based SpaceRef.com and the international focused Space Daily, pass off press releases as original news. An example would be the March 29th, 2017 Intelsat General promotional post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: “We’re Here, and We can Help,” seen here beside the identical April 13th, 2017 Space Daily editorial post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: "We're Here, and We can Help."" Graphic c/o Satcom Frontier & Space Daily. 
The new project is a replacement for the Canadian civilian/military hybrid Polar Communications & Weather (PCW) satellite constellation which, as outlined in the July 17,th 2016 post, "The Polar Communications & Weather Satellite (PCW) Mission is Dead; To Revive it, our Military Wants More Money," was cancelled last year and replaced with a international, military focused program.
The budget for the ESC program is estimated at up to $2.4Bln CDN.
As outlined in the March 14th 2017 Defense Watch post, "Canada talking to US, Norway and Denmark about footing bill for new Arctic military satellite," a contract is currently scheduled to be awarded in 2020 and the spacecraft could be launched as early as 2024.
The core of the Intesat strategy is outlined in the March 29th, 2017 SATCOM Frontier post, "Commercial Space Operators To Canada: “We’re Here, and We can Help." SATCOM Frontier is part of the marketing arm of the US subsidiary of Intelsat. 
The potential for large, foreign firms to bid on large Canadian government satellite contracts was first raised in the January 31st, 2017 post, "Satellite Servicing, Orbital ATK, MDA, "Security Control Agreements," CETA, Minister Duncan's Science Adviser & Nova Scotia Spaceports."
The 1845 kg Lybid-1 communications satellite. Graphic c/o Kyiv Post.
  • The Ukrainian state news agency Interfax-Ukraine is again reporting that the "first Ukrainian telecommunications satellite," could finally be placed into orbit in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The Lybid-1 was built by Richmond, BC based Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) under contract to the State Space Agency of the Ukraine (SSAU) using an ISS-Reshetnev developed Ekspress-1000 bus and an MDA developed communications payload.
As outlined in the December 9th, 2016 Interfax Ukraine post, "SSAU seeks to prepare for launch of first Ukrainian satellite Lybid in 2017," the Canadian Export Development Canada (EDC), provided a $254.6Mln CDN loan under "Ukrainian government guarantees to finance the project in the summer of 2009. Initially it was planned to put the Ukrainian satellite into orbit in 2012, later it was postponed to 2013 and then to April 2014," when the November 2013 Ukrainian crisis erupted and launch plans were shelved. 
As outlined in the April 12th, 2017 Interfax-Ukraine post, "Ukrainian satellite Lybid could be launched by late 2017 – acting SSAU head," the latest report originates with the "acting head" of the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU), Yuriy Radchenko, who said that an additional $17Mln US ($23Mln CDN) had been committed by Ukraine in order to complete the project.
As outlined originally in the December 12th, 2016 post, "exactEarth, Lybid-1, the CSA (which Needs more Committees) and the Upcoming 2017 Earth Observation Summit," the completed Lybid-1 satellite is still being stored at Reshetnev in Krasnoyarsk (Russia), while the "Canadian partner is holding talks with Russia to get guarantees to launch the satellite" sometime in 2017." 
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
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Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

"Massive" Review of Federal Science Funding Finally Released; Will Likely Soon "Drop Down the Memory Hole"

          By Chuck Black

The "massive" review of Federal science funding, announced in June, 2016 by the Justin Trudeau Liberal government, finally released its report on April 10th.

But the review is expected to quickly slide into irrelevance because of its first recommendation for additional funding to assist "younger researchers" attempting to establish their careers through government funded research and its second recommendation, to form yet another committee tasked with further assessing the situation.

Federal science minister Kirsty Duncan commenting on the report by a federal panel looking at scientific research funding in Canada, in Ottawa on April 10th, 2017. As outlined in the April 11th, 2017 National Observer post, "Canada trails 11 countries in clean tech research, report finds," the "overall conclusion" of the report was that "independent science and scholarly inquiry have been underfunded for much of the last decade." For those of us who prefer to peruse the primary source materials before drawing conclusions, the complete report, under the title "Investing in Canada's Future; Strengthening the Foundation of Canada's Research," is available online on the Science Review website. Photo c/o Alex Tétreault.

A reasonable person might ask why this will happen? That answer is revealingly obvious. 

The government simply doesn't expect many of the already established scientists who currently receive the overwhelming majority of federal grants under programs administered through the National Research Council (NRC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as well as programs like the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the various Canada Research Chairs, Genome Canada and others to give up their existing funds without a fight.

So the only real option to assist young researchers is to allocate more funds, which will be difficult to do if the ruling Liberals want to cut into Canada's growing federal deficit. As outlined in the Jan 5th, 2017 CBC News post, "Decades of deficits could be ahead for Canada, federal analysis warns," the existing deficit will be very difficult to tackle. 

So the report may never be acted upon, which is as good a reason as any to form another committee and study the situation some more.

Maybe someone on the next committee will even come up with a better idea.

Fortunately, many university students are picked up by the private sector after getting their BA. To celebrate, here's a cartoon from the undated, and terribly pessimistic, College Express post, "The 20 Steps of Graduate Research...Told in Cartoons."

As outlined in the April 10th, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Massive review of federal science funding reveals risks to younger researchers," the federal government spends more than $10Bln CDN on science and technology annually and: 
About half that amount is directed toward so-called intramural research and regulatory science conducted in federal labs that fall under the purview of various ministries, including more than $1-billion a year for the National Research Council of Canada, and was not considered by the review panel.
The review called for an increase of "base-level spending" by "core funding agencies" to $4.8Bln a year from the current $3.5Bln CDN  after a four year "ramp up period."

It also criticized an overly siloed research system that the panel called “weakly co-ordinated” and “inconsistently evaluated,” often to the detriment of younger researchers who are trying to establish their careers in a fast moving and competitive landscape.

The report recommends the creation of more structure, including a senior-level advisory council that would ride herd over the entire funding framework. As outlined in the post: 
...the proposed National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation would be composed of 12 to 15 members, including prominent scientists and scholars. The new council would be given the task of reviewing and assessing all components of the funding system and weighing in before the government launches any new funding organizations and initiatives.
In essence, the review has recommended the creation of another committee, which will further "assess" and "review."

It's often surprising to note the items which fall down the memory hole. Take, for example, the April 12th, 2016 post, "The National Research Council Doesn't Fit Within the Current Innovation Agenda," which discussed the underlying reasons leading up to the June 2016 announcement that the Federal government would conduct a review of the machinery in place to support science and scientists in Canada. Graphic c/o The Commercial Space blog

As outlined in the June 13th, 2016 post, "Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science," the independent panel, which reported to Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, was tasked with reviewing the program machinery currently in place to support science and scientists in Canada.

The panel was originally expected to issue a public report before the end of 2016.
Chuck Black.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Part 5: 150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History

The International Geophysical Year, the Avro Arrow & Jetliner, Lapp, Stehling, Bull & Blue Streak



         By Robert Godwin

Craphic c/o Canada Post.
Canada's aerospace raison d'être has always derived from its immense size, its location in the far north as a vast, barely-tracked wilderness of incalculable resources and the logical requirements relating to defence, communications, utilization and exploration which naturally follow from its size and location.
In 1955 President Eisenhower announced that the United States would contribute to the 75th anniversary of the International Polar Year by launching an orbiting satellite. This new scientific global initiative was to be called the International Geophysical Year (IGY) because scientists would now study the whole planet, rather than just the polar regions. Kurt Stehling was now in Princeton New Jersey working for the Naval Research Laboratory and he was assigned to be chief of propulsion on the as-yet untested launch vehicle for the proposed IGY satellite.

Russia had played a significant role in the two previous IPY events and it was only logical that its successor, the Soviet Union, would do the same. Soviet scientists informed their western counterparts at the Copenhagen International Astronautical Congress that they would be attempting their own satellite launch, but despite these comments the Western world was utterly stunned when on October 4th 1957 the world's first spacecraft, Sputnik, went soaring into orbit.


In Malton Ontario, on that very same day, thousands of Canadian aerospace workers were distracted by their own remarkable achievement. The roll-out of Canada's latest, home-grown, fighter-interceptor; designated the CF-105, or Avro Arrow.

Designed by a team of some of the brightest and best engineers in the world, the Arrow was like something from the future. It was packed from stem to stern with the latest aerospace technology and, should it live up to expectations, it represented a truly giant leap forward in aviation. But the Cold War was in full swing and while the Arrow may have been futuristic, the Soviet's little metal ball passing overhead at 25 times the speed of sound stole the limelight.

Phil Lapp, the U of T engineer who had gone to MIT, had spent much of his early career flying across the Canadian wilderness, mapping and recording mineral deposits and other potential resources. By the 1950s he had assumed an important role at de Havilland in Downsview and as soon as he heard about Sputnik he resolved to create an in-house group to look at the very-real new science of astronautics. He called his group the Canadian Astronautical Society and they held their first full meeting at the de Havilland Missile Division on January 8th 1958.

Lapp's group spent the next year working up proposals for high-altitude rockets and satellite tracking facilities. They built Canada's first space tracking station using spare parts and donated money and used it to keep an eye on the sudden flurry of American and Soviet satellites.


The United States government had launched its first satellite at the end of January 1958; seven weeks later the Navy rocket which Kurt Stehling had been working on, launched Vanguard 1 into an orbit that was expected to last 1000 years. Later that summer the United States consolidated its efforts into a civilian space agency named the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), based on the recommendations of the Rocket and Satellite Research Panel. This small group of scientists included Stehling, who was now writing science papers on almost a monthly basis, ranging on subjects as diverse as ion propulsion to relativistic time dilatation.

In April 1958 it was revealed that Gerald Bull's oxygen-hydrogen gun experiments at CARDE were being considered as a second stage for a Canadian satellite launch. The plan was to place the satellite atop a lightweight version of Bull's gun and place the satellite and gun combination on an American Redstone missile. The press dubbed the plan "Canucknik." Although there is no doubt that the technology existed, Defence Minister George Pearkes and Brigadier Waldock, who ran CARDE, were quick to deny the reports. Canada's satellite would have to wait.

In the summer of 1958 Phil Lapp sent the Canadian Astronautical Society secretary, Arthur Maine, to attend the International Astronautical Congress in Amsterdam. While there, Maine came into contact with the British de Havilland missile engineers who were working on a long range ballistic missile named the Blue Streak. After much discussion it was decided that the Blue Streak might be used as the basis for a Commonwealth Space Program. Maine reported back to Lapp that Canada should get involved immediately in this proposal and inaugurate a third contestant in the space race.


At this moment in history governments around the world had become obsessed with the notion that missiles would soon make aircraft obsolete. Missile divisions had already started to evolve to meet this new challenge and Canada had stayed in this arena by building increasingly advanced guidance mechanisms for air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.

By the end of 1958 the Canadian Aeronautical Institute (CAI), a four-year old aircraft industry group, started to contemplate taking on a role in the space and missile arena. The CAI had about 1000 members and was the industry voice for more than four dozen aerospace corporations including de Havilland, Avro, Canadair, the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Trans Canada Airlines, Rolls Royce Canada and many others.

Most of these companies had long legacies in the aircraft business but few were involved with missile and rocket technology with the notable exceptions of de Havilland, Bristol and Canadair.  Despite these three companies being within the inner circle of CAI, there was a muted response from the members about getting involved in the new business of space flight. At this time the CAI chairman was a UTIAS professor named Herbert Ribner, who had originally worked at NASA's predecessor, the NACA in Washington.  Ribner's vice-chairman was David Bogdanoff, a Michigan native who worked at Canadair in Montreal, a company that was owned by General Dynamics in the United States.

In January 1959 Phil Lapp and Arthur Maine urged the Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker, and his Defence Secretary George Pearkes, to allow the CAS to send official representatives to a Commonwealth Space Summit scheduled for August in London. The request was declined.

January 1959 CAS submission to Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Graphics c/o Apogee Books.

At this exact time the government of Canada was embroiled in a political miasma and seemed unsure of what to do with Canada's air defence. In the mid 1950s the previous government had commissioned the Avro Arrow as a replacement for the wildly successful CF-100 fighter. The new fighter/interceptor was to be designed and built by Avro in Malton Ontario and was to be on the cutting edge of aircraft design.

The team assembled in Malton Ontario included engineers from England, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Germany and elsewhere and they set about building an aircraft that would be uniquely suited to Canada's specific needs. It had to be capable of long-range interception, it had to carry the best possible weapons systems, it had to be able to fly faster and higher than almost anything else in the sky and it needed to be airborne by the end of the decade.

Since its first roll-out in October of 1957 the Arrow had gone through an assortment of test flights and was still awaiting its home-grown high powered engine, the Orenda Iroquois. This engine had outperformed almost every engine in the world during test-bed trials. But despite all indications that the Arrow would be a world-beating aircraft, at the beginning of 1959 the Diefenbaker government chose to cancel all further development and effectively consigned Avro Canada to a long slow decline into oblivion. Like its ill-fated predecessor the Avro Jetliner the Arrow suffered by false comparisons.

The history books all still say that the de Havilland Comet was the first civilian jet transport to take to the air, which is technically true. However, what the history books rarely reveal is that the Comet flew a few inches off the ground and then settled back onto the runway. Two weeks later the Jetliner took off and flew for over an hour at 13,000 feet. If we are to use such unfavourable comparisons then the Wright Brothers first flight should perhaps be overshadowed by the Maxim flight of the 1890s which also left the ground for a few inches.


If the Jetliner had gone into production it would have beaten its first real in-service competitor by more than five years. While history tends to lay the blame for Avro's demise squarely on Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, there are those who worked on the Jetliner who feel that the St Laurent government's decision to cancel the Jetliner was the mortal blow. It certainly didn't make it any easier that much later Diefenbaker accused Avro of complacency, and of only being successful because of government largesse.

The irony of this remark now resonates with sixty years of hindsight. In fact government subsidies underwrite almost every major aerospace program in the world. Canada was no different and Avro was no more blameworthy than Boeing or Douglas or de Havilland when it came to taking handouts from the taxpayer.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker famously remarked that Canada needed its aircraft manufacturing industry, but if Avro disappeared, the country would still have de Havilland and Canadair. Although technically this was true, the comment wantonly obfuscated the fact that thousands of highly trained people would lose their jobs, and even worse, leave the country.

Which is, of course, exactly what happened. 
Robert Godwin.
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Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books, the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum and an American Astronautical Society History Committee Member.
He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music.  
His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.
Last Week, "Radar, Better Radar (of the "Synthetic Aperture" Variety), Project Quill, CARDE, Velvet Glove & Black Brant" in part four of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History."

Next Week, "Bomarc Missiles, The "Prevailing Wisdom" of Unaware Politicians, Unemployed Avro Employees, NASA, Canadair, CAI & the Origins of Spar Aerospace" as part six of "150 Years of Canadian Aerospace History" continues.

On sale now, at Apogee Books.

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