Bob Bennett, Orrin Hatch and Rob Bishop (all three who are teaming up to save the Constellation and Ares programs according the space news site Galaxy Wire) and military commentators like the US Air Force Times ( which warns that "The Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office could face major increases in the cost of launching satellites") are obviously concerned over the emerging commercial space landscape.
But the changes outlined by the Obama administration's recent embrace of both commercial and cooperative international space activities are slowly gaining steam, even in Canada. For example:
- Commercial rocket company SpaceX successfully completed the latest test firing of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle on March 13th according to this article on the Commercial Space Watch website. The company's goal is commercial crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS).
- David Lenard, a technology and science correspondent for MS-NBC writes about how "Suborbital Spaceships Spark Scientific Frenzy." He states that "Anticipation is on the rise for a new crop of commercial suborbital spaceships that can serve the scientific and educational market" Funding for these craft (expected to compete with Virgin Galactic Space Ship II) is expected to come from the $75 million allocated to the NASA Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program in the FY2011 budget.
- Radio Sweden International, under the title "Four Swedes Waiting to Travel to Space" discussed Ann Klefbom from Umeå who has reserved her ticket on Space Ship II and hopes to become the first Swedish woman in space. According to the article, she still needs to raise approximately $200,000USD to pay for her ticket.
- According to the article "Space Agency Heads Discuss Extending Space Station Lifespan to 2028" on the SpaceRef.ca website "the leaders of the space agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States" are meeting to discuss extending the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2028. This seems to indicate that the US is no longer the primary driver behind the ISS, especially given that the March 11th press release promoting the event specifically stated that "the ISS will also allow the partnership to experiment with more integrated international operations and research, paving the way for enhanced collaboration on future international missions."
In Canada, even the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) is acting supportive of private space industry by revising their March 4th, 2010 press release (which praised additional funding for the Canadian Space Agency to complete the Radarsat Constellation mission) with this March 11th press release titled "The Canadian Aerospace Industry praises the federal government for recognizing Space as a strategic capability for Canada." The latest press release says pretty much the same thing as the earlier one but drops statements included in the March 4th document on defense cuts impacting "the procurement and sustainment of aircraft" and AIAC disappointment "that no mention of Canada’s aerospace industry – a clear leader in innovation – was made in the federal budget."
It's likely that the second statement was dropped because the "space" part of aerospace was indeed mentioned in the federal government documents, even though the "aero" part wasn't.
Lastly, the Canadian Space Commerce Association Annual conference and general meeting is Tuesday, March 16th at the MaRS Development District. The theme of the conference is "The Growing Canadian Commercial Space Sector" which likely isn't directly related to aircraft either although we promise to mention them, once or twice.