Monday, February 13, 2017

OMX, Trump, Trudeau, Bombardier's Bailout, the UK Space Agency, UK Spaceports, CSA Earth Imaging Grants & MAFIC Studios

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of February 13th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking in the Commercial Space blog:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump met in Washington, DC on February 13th, 2017. For an overview of their public discussion, check out the February 13th, 2017 CBC News post, "Trudeau meets Trump: Watch the full news conference or read the transcript." Photos c/o CBC News.

  • Toronto, ON based Offset Marketing Exchange (OMX) CEO Nicole Verkindt has an interesting perspective on the February 13th, 2017 meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new US President Donald Trump. 
As outlined in the February 13th, 2017 Linked-In post, "How America Won the Chicken War and why Trump will Try it Again," the real secret to understanding the Trump agenda is to understand a West German tariff imposed at the end of World War II to support small, struggling German chicken farmers, and the US measures imposed in retaliation designed to cut off Volkswagen van imports.
As outlined in the post, "Not all wars have a clear winner, but it would seem today that Americans dominate in pickup trucks much more so than Germans do in chickens. The "Chicken Tax" essentially legislated American success in the light truck market, and now President Trump is hoping to recreate this same sort of success in other markets." 
The article is certainly a more nuanced assessment of Trump, Trudeau and their respective agendas than is typical in these polarized times. Only time will tell if the assessment ends up being more accurate.
OMX was first profiled in the January 23rd, 2013 post, "Buy Canada: New Firm Tracks IRB Offsets." 
  • Montreal, PQ based Bombardier Inc. has its bailout. But the new funds come with new concerns over Brazil's latest World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge to Bombardier's Federal and provincial government support.
As outlined in the February 7th, 2017 CBC News post, "Federal government to give $372.5M in loans to Bombardier," the Justin Trudeau government has said that it will provide $372.5Mln CDN in interest-free loans to Bombardier, "a move that elicited criticism even though it is far less than the transportation giant originally sought more than a year ago." 
As outlined in the June 30th, 2016 Bombardier press release, "Bombardier closes the Government of Québec’s investment in the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership," the company has also received $1Bln US ($1.31Bln CDN) in recent funding from the Quebec provincial government along with a number of smaller grants and tax breaks. 
But, as outlined in the February 13th, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Brazil’s WTO challenge over aid to Bombardier is good for the aviation market," the government of Brazil has requested consultations with the Canadian government regarding "subsidies provided to local manufacturer Bombardier for the development of its new C Series commercial jets." 
Brazil’s request, supported by the CEO of Brazilian based Embraer SA, the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate generally considered to be Bombardier's major competition, highlights "subsidies in excess of $4-billion (U.S.) provided by Canada’s national, provincial and local governments." 
As outlined in the article, "attempts to resolve this matter via diplomatic channels have proved unsuccessful, leaving the Brazilian government with no option but to request WTO consultations, action that Embraer supports."
Bombardier was last profiled in the November 1st, 2016 post, "Is Bombardier Another Example of a Company Unable to Find Success in Canada?
  • The UK Space Agency has launched a £10Mln GBP ($16.35CDN) plan to grow the UK based commercial spaceflight market. 
As outlined in the February 10th, 2017 Room post, "UK Space Agency announces £10 million scheme to develop commercial spaceflight launch capabilities," the program is designed to help "develop commercial launch capability for spaceflight – a market that is worth an estimated £25 billion over the next 20 years."
The funding "must be used to develop spaceflight capabilities, such as adapting launch vehicle technology for use in the UK or building spaceport infrastructure." Businesses expected to bid for a share of the newly allocated funding are likely to be joint enterprises of launch vehicle operators and potential launch sites.
While the contest is being held, the UK government has also committed to "preparing legislation to develop a safe and competitive regulatory environment for spaceflight. This work goes hand-in-hand with government’s work internationally to achieve the technical, trade and policy agreements necessary for UK based launch services and developing interest from launch customers and operators from around the world."
All in all, it sounds like the sort of plan that any moderately sized country (and many venture capital firms) could reproduce fairly quickly and easily. Here's hoping the Canadian government takes notice. 
  • The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is funding a variety of programs exploring new uses for Earth observation (EO) satellites on their own, and in conjunction with Earth based observation techniques.
As outlined in the February 9th, 2017 CSA Earth observation application development post, "Innovative EO solutions: exploring the benefits of using satellites and drones together," the CSA is exploring "the complementary use of drones and satellites to enhance EO applications and provide more comprehensive solutions to end-users," through its Earth Observation Application Development Program (EOADP).
Seven concept studies are currently being funded up to a maximum of $100,000 CDN. They include: 
  • An application for "Mapping and classifying wetlands," through Kawartha Lakes, ON based AG-UAV
  • An application for "identifying the presence of pests in agriculture," through Montreal, PQ based Effigis Geo Solutions
  • Two applications for "monitoring algae blooms" the first, focused around "the use of hyperspectral sensors aboard drones to simulate coarse-resolution data for specific regions," through Quebec City, PQ based Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) and the second, focused on collecting data "from EO satellites along with hyperspectral and thermal infrared sensors aboard drones," through Waterloo, ON based H2O Goematics. 
  • An application for "providing land measurements to the mining sector," through Vancouver, BC based TRE Altamira
  • An application for "detecting land movement caused by industrial activities," through Victoria, BC based ASL Environmental Sciences
  • An application to "monitor pipelines" through St. John's, Newfoundland based C-Core.
As outlined in the post, The EOADP program has also provided funding (up to $300,000 CDN) to explore potential uses for EO satellites focused on the management of disasters involving landslides, wildfires, flooding, oil and ice detection, and ice travel. 
The Canadian companies selected to receive funding under this program include 3vGeomatics Inc., AECOM Consultants Inc., Array Systems Computing Inc., AUG Signals Ltd., C-CORE, Hatfield Consultants, MDA Geospatial Services Inc. (a part of Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler), PCI Geomatics, PolarView Canada and TRE Altamira.
The Sudbury based graphic design firm, last profiled in the April 17th, 2016 post, "Sudbury Graphics Design Firm Sees the Big Picture," is still diligently focused on providing realistic and accurate images for the scientific, engineering and aerospace community. 
As outlined by owner Kris Holland, the new reel was constructed completely in-house, with the exception of the music, which was created by 
As outlined by Holland, "I'm always trying to improve the products I offer, so that the technical community can better convey its message, in order to raise both awareness and funds.  This demo shows the breadth of what I have to offer, from stills, animation, and full production of scripted media."
For more information, check out the Mafic studios website at
For more, check out future posts in the Commercial Space blog.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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