With the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and most of the rest of the country about ready to wind down for the summer (unofficially, of course), it's worth taking a look at some of the slowly percolating stories still being tracked:
|MDA CEO Daniel Friedmann.|
- There seems to be quite a bit of backroom negotiation going on between Canadian space systems icon MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) and various US space focused concerns. According to the June 18th, 2011 Spaceref.ca article titled "MDA Extends Definition Phase of its Satellite Infrastructure Servicing (SIS) Initiative" the company will be delaying a final decision on its on-orbit satellite services initiative (which was originally set for this month, as outlined in my April 3rd, 2011 blog post "A Backgrounder for On-Orbit Satellite Servicing") for an additional three months. The delay is justified as being needed to assess a US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) proposal to fund a direct competitor to the MDA based initiative and seems to have the full, public support of anchor customer Intelsat (which has tentatively committed $280 million CDN to the project). However, there is no word on how this will effect the publicly stated intent of MDA CEO Daniel Friedman to purchase a "space company" with US roots, using $793 million CDN acquired through the January, 2011 sale of the MDA property-information business, as reported in my May 9th, 2011 post "Fighting Words from MacDonald Dettwiler."
- Speaking of partnerships, some interesting people will be joining CSA Director General for Science and Technology Dave Kendall for interviews on Wednesday as part of the CSA's first Orbital Debris Workshop. The CSA is doing this as part of the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), which exchanges information on space debris research activities between members and which the CSA joined last year. According to this June 20th CSA media advisory, Kendal will be joined by Nicholas Johnson, the NASA chief scientist for orbital debris and Heiner Klinkrad, the European Space Agency (ESA) head of space debris office of the IADC Secretariat for media questions and interviews between 11am and lunch. I'm not expecting any big news to come out of here, but the meeting is indicative of the growing international cooperation and integration in this area.
|CSA DG Dave Kendall|
- According to this June 20th, 2011 press release on the NanoRacks website, the company has just announced "the completion of its first external round of equity capital welcoming ten new angel and venture investors from both the U.S. and Europe." Although no dollar amount was quoted in the press release, New York based investment bank Near Earth LLC was listed as the private placement agent. Since its formation in 2009, NanoRacks has developed, launched and now operates a commercial space research facility as part of the US National Lab on the International Space Station (ISS).
|ESA DG Jean-Jacques Dordain.|
- Speaking of the ISS, according to the June 20th, 2011 article on the Physics.org website titled "ESA chief hits at "anarchy" over space station planning" a senior executive of the European Space Agency (ESA), said the scheduled phase-out of the US space shuttle means that "we are not in a very comfortable situation, and that's just a euphemism." Speaking as part of a press conference at the 49th International Paris Air Show, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said that the lack of discussion and coordination between NASA, the ESA and Japan has led to "anarchy" when transporting supplies to the ISS. According to Dordain, "we didn't discuss things sufficiently."
- Speaking of talk, it's also worth noting this June 20th, 2011 blog post titled "Space Partnering Means More US Funded Space Work For Europe" which explicitly discusses that often unstated assumption surrounding international space cooperation. According to the author, partnership must derive tangible benefits for both sides and not just focus on improving intangibles like building relationships, increasing awareness or enhancing communications.
|Space-X CEO Elon Musk.|
- Speaking of nasty talk, a June 20th, 2011 post on the UK based Register website titled "Space-X goes to court as rocket wars begin" reports on what seems to have been a shakedown attempt by a consultant to win a lucrative contract with rocket company Space Exploration Technologies (Space-X). According to the article, Joseph Fragola (a VP with consulting firm Valador Information Architects) tried to obtain a hefty deal from SpaceX at the beginning of June by "contacting officials in the United States Government to make disparaging remarks about SpaceX, which have created the very "perception" that he claimed SpaceX needed his help to rectify." The Valador case follows recent and well publicized anti-Space-X articles by Loren Thompson, a well-known aerospace industry advocate who openly admits being partially funded by Space-X competitor Lockheed Martin.
|New AIAC President Jim Quick.|
- Speaking of positive communications, it's worth noting that Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) President Claude Lajeunesse has stepped down in favor of James Quick, according to the June 15th, 2011 press release "AIAC appoints new President and Chief Executive Officer" on the AIAC website. According to the press release, Mr. Quick has a background in "restructuring not-for-profit organizations" which will likely be useful to the AIAC over the next little while as it struggles with several upcoming aerospace and commercialization reviews instituted by the Federal government which are expected to be undertaken and completed over the next eighteen months. For a little more background on this, check out my May 30th, 2011 post titled "Political Reviews Moving to the Forefront."
- And speaking of history, a June 20th, 2011 article on the Parabolic Arc website reminds us that "Seven Years Ago, SpaceShipOne Rocketed into History" by making the first private suborbital spaceflight on June 21st, 2004. But the article also reminds us that, although the "daring flight helped to kick off a new industry, the new era of human spaceflight that it seemed to herald has receded ever further into the future, always seemingly 18 months away."