Monday, April 25, 2011

Breakthrough Space Technologies Panel Discussion Posted

Marc Boucher, my colleague over at has posted the panel discussion which finished off the recently concluded Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) 2011 conference and annual general meeting.  Focused on "the Next Breakthrough Space Technologies for Canada," the conference took place on March 19th, 2011 at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, Ontario.

Panel Discussion: The Next Breakthrough Space Technologies for Canada on Vimeo.

I acted as host (that's me standing on the far left leaning over the podium) and the other participants, from left to right included Joshua Brost, the Manager of Business Development for Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX); Ron Holdway, the VP of Government Relations for Com Dev International (and also the current president of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute); Frank Teti, the Manager of Autonomous Robotics for MacDonald, Dettwiler (MDA); Olivier Daigle, the Chief Technology Officer for Nüvü Camēras; Steve Bochinger, the President of Euroconsult North America; Chummer Farina, VP of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Marie-Eve Ducharme, the President and CEO of Nüvü Camēras (who, unfortunately spent most of the discussion on the far right just out of camera range).

In the introductions, I compared the present panel with the 2006 International Astronautical Congress (AIC) round table on "Major Space Markets in the Next 20 years and the Corporate Approach for Success." This earlier panel, moderated by Virendra Jha (then VP Science, Technology and Programs for the CSA) also included Mag Iskander (then Executive VP and General Manager Space Missions for MDA) and quite a few other major figures in aerospace.

But with all those experts on the earlier panel, it was very amusing to note how each acted amazed at the things that have happened over the last twenty years, then marveled at how most of it was completely unexpected but then stated unequivocally that the market has likely stabilized and will now remain essentially the same for the foreseeable future (with one or two predictable exceptions which are logical progressions of already existing trends).

In essence, nobody really saw the near future or felt comfortable talking about all the amazing changes that were just about ready to occur in the space systems industry at the domestic and the international level over the next six years.

For the current panel, I wanted to insure that they weren't going to end up following along the same path as the earlier panel and would instead focus on the core discussions around space focused technologies where Canada can lead now and continue to do so in the future.

So I started by telling the panelists that they had to do a better job than the earlier panel. I hope they took my admonition in the spirit with which it was intended.

I do think they succeeded in outlining for discussion the important issues surrounding the next breakthrough space technologies for Canada including our growing expertise in micro-satellites, new initiatives in space science,  new sensors and exploration tools, Department of National Defense (DND) drivers related to northern sovereignty and other drivers that are starting to attract government funding including Earth imaging, new private initiatives such as on-orbit satellite servicing and the increasing capabilities possible now that launch costs are finally beginning to shrink.

But I've also included the earlier 2006 discussion so that people can compare the two, just in case I'm wrong.

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