Monday, November 22, 2010

Media Notes from the 2010 Canadian Space Summit

The Lord Elgin Hotel in downtown Ottawa bills itself as one of the "nicest Ottawa hotels" with a location "directly across from Confederation Park and the National Arts Centre" which puts it steps away from the Rideau Canal, the Federal Parliament Buildings and the Rideau Centre."
Entrance to the Lord Elgin Hotel
Of course, I didn't get to see any of those places this weekend because I was inside the Lord Elgin attending the 2010 Canadian Space Summit. For those of us who couldn't make it, here are a couple of quick overviews of some of the more interesting Friday and Saturday sessions as described by our mass media:
  • "Multi-sized rovers could be Canada's Future in Space" according to Tom Spears in his November 20th 2010 Post Media News article of the same name. The article quotes Jean-Claude Piedboeuf, head of exploration planning at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), who laid out a variety of goals for Canada in his Saturday presentation. The article also quotes Canadian Space Society (CSS) president Kevin Shortt as stating that real  progress at the CSA is dependent on the development of a long term commitment from the Canadian government to fund future space activities. According to Shortt, no company wants to start the long, expensive job of designing new Mars rovers and find out later that the government wants satellites instead.
  • Others think that "Space may be first frontier for the next major conflict" according to Canadian Press author Peter Rakobowchuk in his November 20th, 2010 article. Colonel Andre Dupuis, the Director of Space Development for the Canadian Forces (CF) is quoted as stating that "the first line in the sand for the next major conflict may very well be in space or cyberspace, but probably not on the ground or in the air or in the sea." Also quoted is Dr. James Fergusson, the director of Canada’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies who stated that the public really doesn’t care much about what’s going on in space which makes policy development difficult. An updated (although not substantially changed) Canadian space defense policy is expected to be released by the federal government next March.
    The Friday and Saturday sessions focused on planetary exploration, education and outreach but my personal perception is that education and outreach were the most important topics covered given the quoted comments from CSS President Shortt (on the need for a long term commitment from government and an outline of expected future space activities) and Colonel Dupruis (on the expected military space policy update next March).

    The Sunday sessions, focused on Earth orbit, life sciences, astronomy, commercialization, law and policy will be the subject of my next post.

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