Friday, November 26, 2010

Second Day Space Summit Media Stories

Mike Gold
With all due respects to Marie-Claude Williamson (from the Geological Survey of Canada, who chaired the planetary exploration session), Alan Scott (from COM DEV International, who chaired the life sciences session), Minh Oh (from the Canadian Space Agency, who chaired the law and policy session) and the very capable Jaymie Matthews (from the University of British Columbia who chaired the astronomy session) the final day of the 2010 Canadian Space Summit (CSS) was pretty much all about Bigelow Aerospace and it's globe trotting corporate counsel who dropped in during chief architect Marc Bouchers commerce and commercialization session.

According to his presentation, Gold (who also runs the Washington, DC Bigelow office) just wants to remind Canadians that we have an alternative ride to orbit and a new place for scientific experiments after the shuttle retires next year.

According to the November 23rd, 2010 Canadian Press article "Vegas firm hoping to attract Canadian astronauts onto inflatable space station:"
"Bigelow Aerospace says it's working on a commercial space complex that will have the strength of a Kevlar bullet-proof vest. A company representative was in Ottawa last weekend, delivering a keynote speech and lobbying officials at the annual summit of the Canadian Space Society."

"Mike Gold, a Bigelow director, called it his first attempt to reach out to the Canadian government and the space industry. He argued that the facility will offer countries a cheaper way into space within five years."
The article goes on to paraphrase Gold as indicating that Canada "is exactly the sort of customer Bigelow is looking for as the entire industry works to fill the void that will be created once the U.S. space shuttles stop flying in 2011."

The Canadian Press article also indicates that Gilles LecLerc, the director of space exploration for the CSA, said that the agency is not involved, "in any way" with the Bigelow project.

The proposed Bigelow space station.
But of course, that doesn't mean that they can't talk. The CSA and it's federal government masters would be foolish not to at least entertain the option of alternative and potentially lower cost access to space.

Bigelow already has two prototype space-station modules in orbit, the Genesis I and Genesis II and has partnered with US aviation giant Boeing on a man rated commercial crew transport vehicle to ferry future astronauts to their Sundancer and BA 330 orbital modules, which are scheduled for launch and orbit around 2014-2015.

Of course, there were a lot of other fascinating topics going on Sunday that didn't make the "mass media" but perhaps should have.

For example, the pressing need to develop legal infrastructures to properly police the growing number of space faring nations and commercial space players like Bigelow resonated throughout the Summit but the law and policy sessions tackled these issues directly with presentations by James Ferguson (from the University of Manitoba's Centre for Defence and Security Studies), Doug Bancroft (from the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing) and Michael Dodge (from McGill University).
Grant Bonin

The glue tying the the law and policy speakers together is that the environment for industry and scientific growth is defined by law and policy and these areas should be a priority for government (and defining fair and equitable rules is the one thing that governments can do better than private industry).

I was also quite impressed with the presentation by Grant Bonin, who provided an overview of activities at the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) and its Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) where he seems to be bucking for a job in sales (he kept saying "if you'd like to have one of these items, you should talk with me after the session.").

PARS3C author Elizabeth Howell and Marc Boucher are covering the Summit over at all this week, so if you'd like to learn a little more about some of the other sessions, you're encouraged to go and take a look at what they've put together.

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