Sunday, April 09, 2017

Part 4: A History of the Canadian Space Program - Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets

More of the 1970's, "Equal Access" to Communications, "Improved Industrial Capability" and the Hermes Communication Satellite 

The Hermes communications satellite. Graphic c/o CSA.
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.

The 1970's, Part 2

During the 1970, the Department of Communications (DOC) had been conducting studies of advanced satellite communications concepts with a view to using the newly approved 14/12 GHz band to provide direct communications services via satellite to low cost ground terminals. 
The motivation for these studies was the government’s stated policy that Canadians, no matter where they lived, should have equal access to the rapid evolution in communications services.
The newly approved frequency band for communications satellites offered the potential for the ubiquitous provision of telephone, television, tele-education, tele-medicine and a variety of other applications using ground terminals no more than 0.6 metres in size. But the technologies for using this new band were not yet available, and no satellite had yet been designed to take advantage of this new potential.
After extensive negotiations with NASA and considerable debate in government, DOC concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NASA in April 1971 for the Communications Technology Satellite Program (CTS) as a replacement for the cancelled ISIS III satellite. 
The common objectives for the program were: 
  • To advance the state of the art by developing a satellite communications system to operate at higher powers and higher frequencies than existing systems, thus making possible direct communications with low-cost ground terminals in individual homes and communities; and 
  • To conduct communications and technology experiments to evaluate the economic, social and political impacts of the future introduction of new services such as two-way tele- education and tele-medicine, direct broadcasting via satellite, and special community services.
Canada was to design, build and operate the spacecraft while the US was to provide the high-power tube for the satellite and launch the satellite. Use of the satellite was to be shared equally between the two countries. 
Canada had an additional objective stemming from the industrial setback of the Telesat procurement decision (as discussed in part three of this series). The government saw the CTS program as the vehicle for improving our industrial capability to design and manufacture complete communications satellites and subsystems for the domestic and export markets.
To accomplish this in such a high risk advanced technology development program, DOC established a unique program management structure that integrated the skills and expertise of government and industrial personnel into one team. This ensured that responsibility for the program clearly rested with DOC and that the development of project management skills and technological expertise occurred in industry. 
As will be shown later, this unique structure was fundamental to the rapid growth of the Canadian space industry in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. There is no doubt that the CTS program became one of the most significant tools in the development of an internationally competitive space industry in Canada.
CTS was launched on January 17, 1976 and named Hermes. The satellite was operated until contact with the satellite was lost in November 1979 (almost two years after its design life). At the time of its launch, it was the most powerful communications satellite ever launched, and was the first to operate in the new 14/12 GHz band. The communications experiments conducted on Hermes pioneered direct broadcasting of TV to homes and demonstrated the feasibility of providing a host of new services to rural and remote communities. 
The ANIK-B1 dual-band telecommunications satellite. As outlined on the Gunther's Space Page post on the satellite, it was built under an arrangement between Telesat Canada and the federal government and built by the RCA Astro-Electronics Division. Photo c/o ESA.

As a result of the success of Hermes, the Canadian government arranged with Telesat to include 14/12 GHz transponders on its Anik B satellite which was being built to replace the ageing Anik A satellites. As a result, Anik B1, launched on Dec. 15, 1978, was the first satellite in the world to operate in both the 6/4 GHz and the 14/12 GHz bands. 
For Hermes’ accomplishments in the field of television broadcasting and its applications, the Communications Research Centre and NASA received EMMY awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1987.

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 MacDonald "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: "The 1970's, A Canadian Space Industry, Telesat, ANIK and a "Canadian Content Premium," in part three of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets."

Next 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" as part five of "A History of the Canadian Space Program: Policies & Lessons Learned Coping with Modest Budgets," continues.

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