Here's a quick summary of recent Canadian space focused activities, stories, gossip, rumour and innuendo:
- Global Law Experts, the "premier guide to leading legal professionals throughout the world" according to their website, recently awarded Canadian based Blakes the 2010 Canadian intellectual property (IP) law firm of the year award, according to this October 10th, 2010 press release on the Blakes website. The Blakes IP Group is one of the largest intellectual property practices in Canada with thirty-five lawyers, patent agents, trademark agents and technical consultants in a combined practice. Among other things, the Toronto office hosts bimonthly Canadian Space Commerce Association public meetings so you just know that the firm is out actively encouraging new entrepreneurs and innovative business models.
- Speaking of new entrepreneurs and innovative business models, two more teams (from Carlton University in Ottawa and Dalhousie University in Halifax) have just joined the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) according to Larry Reeves, the president of Geocentrix Technologies, which organized and administers the program. Reeves says that the main activity for the challenge now is to finalise the technical requirements and judging criteria before the end of the year. The CSDC is a competition between Canadian university students to design, build, test and launch a low cost operational small satellite using existing, off the shelf technology. The winner is expected to be announced in October 2012.
- Speaking of satellites, the New York Times reported on November 10th, 2010 that the James Webb Space "Telescope Is Behind Schedule and Over Budget, Panel Says." The telescope is a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) but no Canadian subcontractors (which include Com Dev and BC based Macdonald Detwiller) nor anyone at the CSA has so far weighed in on what needs to be done to salvage the project. Don't expect that to change soon since the CSA is only making a small financial contribution ($39 million so far with an expected total of around $148 million over the life of the project) and wants to remain friends with the US prime contractors.
- Speaking of money, the November 12th, 2010 CBC News article "Canadian space flight dreams live on." quotes former Ansari X-Prize competitor Brian Feeney on his latest project to build a reusable, manned suborbital spacecraft to compete with Virgin Galactic. According to the article, Mr. Feeney is "extremely confident" that his latest project will fly just as soon as someone provides $15 million in venture funding to cover the initial prototype and two production craft. As outlined in my latest This Week in Space for Canada post on SpaceRef.ca, the CBC article doesn't reference any tests Mr. Feeney may or may not have done, provides no context for assessing his statements and generally does no service to either his latest claims or the profession of journalism as practiced by the CBC.
- Still speaking of money, Calgary Herald writer Tim Giannuzzi wants the CSA to boldly go where no Canadian has gone before according to the November 14th, 2010 article "Giannuzzi: To boldly go where no Canadian has gone before" but feels that Canadian dreams are restricted by the CSA's budget. He forgets (or maybe just never knew) that the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies (ITIAS) has launched more satellites into orbit over the last 10 years than the CSA and has done so with an annual budget in the range of millions of dollars rather than the hundreds of millions of dollars that the CSA can access.
- Two Com Dev International employees were among the five Canadians killed and six injured in the blast at a resort in the city of Playa del Carmen according to the November 15th, 2010 Canadian Press article "Hotel explosion in Mexico kills Guelph man." Com Dev employee Elgin Barron died in the same Sunday blast at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel which injured his colleague, Larry Smith. Both are well known in the Canadian space community and Mr. Barron will certainly be missed.
- Speaking of the Canadian space community, the CSA expects to release their 2009 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report within the next month. The 2008 report indicated strong growth among Canadian space focused companies with the top ten highest earning firms each showing double digit real growth ranging from 12% to 48%. It will be interesting to see if the new report is able to announce another solid year.