Thursday, June 15, 2017

Telesat Supports Defence Budget But Inuvik Left Out & Teledyne Dalsa Employee Convicted of Selling Satellite Data to China

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of June 12th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're tracking in the Commercial Space blog:

Has this man got a deal for Telesat? Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan in Parliament earlier this year. Photo c/o CTV News.

  • Ottawa, Ontario based Telesat seems to have responded with enthusiasm after learning the details of Canada’s new defense policy last week, especially the parts which included new Federal funding for arctic military satellites.
As outlined in the June 13th, 2017 Space Intel Report post, "Telesat sees possible LEO partnership in Canada’s new defense posture," just hours after the document was published, "Ottawa-based Telesat said the Canadian government’s willingness to strike public-private partnerships, (is) a move that gives 'an unprecedented opportunity for the Canadian defense industry, including the space sector, to effectively support the military.'"
According to the article, "The biggest near-term potential benefit to Telesat would appear to be having Canada’s armed forces as an anchor tenant for Telesat’s proposed global constellation of broadband satellites in low Earth orbit. The constellation, for which two prototype satellites are scheduled for launch this year, would appear to fill the requirement of the new Canadian defense policy for all-Arctic coverage."
As outlined in the June 9th, 2017 post, "Liberals Waive Review of Chinese Norsat Purchase, but also Pledge Billions in Defence Spending & Revise Satellite Licencing Regs," the Minister has proposed up to $62Bln CDN worth of new defence contracts, which would include space-based telecommunications in the Arctic, plus various space based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and situational awareness initiatives plus perhaps even "a counterspace option."
For more on Telesat's proposed global constellation, check out the May 8th, 2017 Space Intel post, "Telesat: LEO gives more user bandwidth than GEO HTS." 
For more on Telesat's two prototype satellites, check out the February 29th, 2016 post, "Telesat makes Agreements, MDA likes the USA, COM DEV not Forgotten & NSERC has Needs."
Tom Zubko, the president of New North Networks, is concerned Inuvik's image as a good place to invest in satellite related technology could face a setback if the federal government does not move faster to approve transmission licenses for two clients who built six new satellite dishes in Inuvik last year. Photo c/o David Thurton/CBC.

  • Of course, while it's hypothetically possible that the new military spending promised by Minister Sajjan is on the way and will indeed show up sometime after the next election, Canada's north will continue for face telecommunication challenges. 
As outlined in the June 9th, 2017 CBC News post, "Federal delays could smother Inuvik's fledgling satellite industry, says telecom prez," six new satellite antennae are ready for service in Inuvik,a town in the Northwest Territories which acts as the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region, but delays in licensing could kill the project.
The article quoted Tom Zubko, the president of Inuvik based New North Networks, who stated that two clients (Norway based Kongsberg Satellite Services and San Francisco, CA based Planet Labs, also known as Planet) have spent upward of $10Mln CDN to install the antennas, but are unable to use them, because of the "slow progress on a federal licence to transmit data" and are thinking of abandoning the project.
Zubko said Inuvik has great potential for this kind of high-tech investment, but only if proponents can get their projects licensed in a timely matter. According to the article, "New North Networks was contracted to build the basic infrastructure for the equipment, which the two satellite companies then installed. Zubko said his company also has a contract to provide care and maintenance of the new equipment."
As outlined most recently in the July 18th, 2016 post, "Arctic Satellites Should Serve Northerners According to Nunatsiaq Online," the 2016 cancellation of the dual civilian and military use Polar Communications and Weather mission (PCW) in favor of a Canadian military based program without any weather component or assured civilian access to communications, has caused confusion in the North as the civilian population scrambles for an alternative. 
Teledyne Dalsa HQ in Waterloo, Ontario. Photo c/o Teledyne Dalsa.

  • In contrast to the recent public and Parliamentary concerns expressed over attempts the proposed sale of Vancouver, BC based Norsat International Inc. to Shenzhen, China based Hytera Communications, there has been little attempt to assess or comment on the recent situation at Waterloo, Ontario based Teledyne Dalsa, where two employees were arrested in February 2017 on charges of stealing sensitive satellite imaging technology from their company and selling the information to China.
As outlined in the June 12th, 2017 The Record post, "Waterloo tech theft case ends with $50,000 fine," Arthur Pang and Binqiao Li faced a raft of charges, including theft, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and possession of property obtained by crime. 
As outlined in the article, charges were the result of a two-year investigation by the RCMP's organized crime unit, which started after a complaint from the Waterloo company in early 2014. 
Both Pang and Binqiao were fired after being charged and Pang eventually pleaded guilty only to breaking Canada's export and customs laws and was fined $50,000 CDN. 
According to the article, "the other 18 charges he faced were dropped by the prosecution. All charges against Li were withdrawn." As outlined in court documents, Pang admitted to competing against his own employer on bids for space projects in China.
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog.
Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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