Thursday, February 22, 2018

Coverage From the 2018 CSCA Small-Sat Conference

         By Henry Stewart

It's worth noting that, while journalists from the Commercial Space blog were banned from the recently concluded 2018 Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) Canadian SmallSat Symposium, mostly for reasons outlined in the November 9th, 2017 post, "Commercial Space and Rocket Port Shenanigans," there has been much useful coverage on the event.

And most of the best of that coverage has originated from Alexandria, VA based Space News senior staff writer Jeff Foust.

Space News Senior correspondent Jeff Foust, during one of his three recent appearances on C-Span. According to his Wikipedia page, Foust is also publisher of the Space Review (an online publication covering space activities) and the Space Politics blog (which he shut down in 2014 to take his present position at Space News). He has also written for or Astronomy Now and The New Atlantis. Photo c/o C-Span.

His coverage from the event includes:
  • The February 15th, 2018 Space News post, "Canadian Space Agency president not surprised by NASA ISS transition plans," an interview with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Sylvain Laporte, who suggested that Canada's decision to follow the Americans down the path of developing "commercial low Earth orbit capabilities, including those that might be able to take over some part of the ISS when NASA funding ends," wasn't a new path or set in stone with a funding commitment. Until funding was forthcoming, Canada would take a "wait and see" approach instead of committing to the US plans.
  • The February 18th, 2018 Space News post, "Telesat to announce manufacturing plans for LEO constellation in coming months," which quoted Telesat VP of low Earth orbit (LEO) Erwin Hudson as stating that "the company was currently reviewing proposals for the 117-satellite constellation submitted by a number of major satellite manufacturers" and plans to settle on a contractor "in the next couple of months."

Competitor coverage, such as the event approved items provided by Kitchener/Waterloo ON based SpaceQ tended to be much slower, focused less on developing an overall sense of what was going on and wrapped around re-purposed talking points cribbed from attendee presentations.

For example, the SpaceQ story on the Planet ground station licence, the February 22nd, 2018 SpaceQ post, "Planet and KSAT Threaten to Pull Ground Station Assets out of Canada (Updated)," came out much later than the Space News post, required updating almost as soon as it was published, and seemed to include far fewer quotes from those involved.

Which is kinda odd, since SpaceQ said they had a team covering the conference. Space News parachuted Foust into the event as a solo act.

Overall, while its a bad idea to restrict the ability of journalists to cover a story, coverage of the space industry is building out to a point where no single source of information is able to cut off all contrary viewpoints.

This is a good thing. It might also be a leading indicator of the future of journalism.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer

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