Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Canadian Long-Term Space Plan Pops Up and Looks Around.

Portions of the Canadian Long-Term Space Plan (LTSP) have finally surfaced, according to my colleague and sometime editor Marc Boucher over on, as part of the recently released Canadian Space Agency (CSA) document titled 2010-2011 Report on Plans and Priorities which is available for download from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat website.

Under the title, Canadian Space Agency Reorganization Underway, Boucher states that, along with a series of government mandated policy changes (defined as part of the TBS Management Accountability Framework), the CSA is also:
".... undergoing organizational structure changes to reflect the new Long Term Space Plan. The most notable changes are in the categorization of the four Directors Generals.
According to the article, the Director General offices of the CSA, which report directly to CSA President Steve MacLean and were classified under the titles space utilization, space exploration, space science and technology/ corporate services have been reclassified under the new titles of space science, space technologies, space programs, and operations, effective as of April 1st, 2010.

Left unclear is how these reorganizations specifically reflect the LTSP, which still has not been publicly released.

For example, Section 1.1 of the 2010-2011 Report on Plans and Priorities states explicitly that the LTSP hasn't been implemented at all, but the CSA is instead governed by:
The Canadian Space Strategy (CSS) approved by the Government of Canada in February 2005 (which) guides the Canadian Space Agency in the management of its programs. The Strategy is instrumental in focusing decision-making at the CSA and aligning all space related program activities through its strategic outcome and long-term priorities.
Section 1.1 is, of course, referring to "The Canadian Space Strategy: Serving and Inspiring the Nation," a document much referenced on this blog and elsewhere only because it was quickly overwhelmed by the aborted sale of portions of space contractor MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to American-owned Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in April 2008 which highlighted national security issues and economic infrastructure components required for a comprehensive national space policy but lacking in the 2005 report.

These missing issues were supposed to be addressed by the upcoming LTSP, which was to supersede the earlier Canadian Space Strategy. Of course, Section 1.4 does mention the LTSP when it states:
In 2008-2009, the CSA undertook a Strategic Review to evaluate its programs and ensure that they continue to meet the needs and priorities of Canadians, are aligned with the Government's Science and Technology Strategy, and are effective and efficient. The evaluation revealed a number of areas where the CSA could make some adjustments...
...At the same time, the CSA carried out a series of consultations with its stakeholders and partners in order to move forward with renewed impetus to sustain and enhance Canada's space advantage, and contribute to a strong Science and Technology culture.

As a result, a Long Term Space Plan (LTSP) that charts a course for the next ten years has been drafted for presentation to Government for consideration. The Plan highlights the fact that responsibility for the use of space-based assets is diffused in Canada.
None of this seems to relate to economic infrastructure and national security or anything new since it's all about "adjustments" and "consultations" but at least now we know that the LTSP has been "drafted" for "presentation to government for consideration."

Which means, of course, that the LTSP hasn't been approved. I wonder what the government doesn't like about it? This is something the CSA has been attempting to do since February 2009 and you'd think they're have gotten it right by now.

It is also interesting to note that the document explicitly states that:
The overall coordination must rest with the Canadian Space Agency which under the Canadian Space Act has the mandate to assist the Minister of Industry in the coordination of space policies and programs of the Government of Canada.
I believe this means the CSA's future role in the coordination of space policies might be in doubt. This is what I mentioned could happen February 15th in my post Ottawa Citizen: "Where did that Long Term Space Plan Go?":
Essentially, if Canada does not define a long term space plan, private business and academia will soon go about creating their own... Mr. MacLean might need to respond to these rising calls for a long term space plan soon, or else risk becoming irrelevant to the debate.
Evidently, the future is arriving faster than expected.

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