MDA Issues, CSA Advocacy, Telesat Unsold and Growing Media Curiosity
Here's a short list of interesting items and news reports currently being tracked in the Commercial Space blog:
|Daniel Friedmann. Preparing to present.|
- Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) President and CEO Daniel Friedmann and executive VP/ CFO Anil Wirasekara plan to take questions during the release of the MDA 2011 second quarter financial results on Friday, July 29, 2011, during the MDA quarterly earnings conference call, according to the July 14, 2011 Canadian News Wire (CNW) media advisory "MDA's Second Quarter 2011 results conference call alert." Expect sound MDA financials, especially given the contract extensions with the Royal Australian Air Force for the MDA Heron unmanned aerial vehicle contract (as per the July 13th, 2011 Australian Aviation article "RAAF Heron contract extended"), additional contract amendments with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) covering the design phase of the RADARSAT Constellation mission (as per the June 28th SatNews article "MDA...Design Developments") and a couple of other items. But also expect many questions relating to the not-quite finalized $280 million USD contract with satellite operator Intelsat for on-orbit satellite servicing (as discussed in my March 15th, 2011 post "Macdonald Dettwiler gets "Anchor Customer" for Brampton Robotics Plant"), the effect of recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tests in this same area using MDA developed tools (as discussed in the June 23rd, 2011 Space News article "NASA Defends On-orbit Satellite Refueling Demonstration") and an update on the status of another MDA initiative (as outlined in my May 9th, 2011 blog post "Fighting Words from Macdonald Dettwiler") to either buy a space company with US roots or else return to shareholders the $793 million CDN acquired through the January, 2011 sale of the MDA property-information business.
|Dextre. A potential new role.|
- Speaking of on-orbit satellite servicing, the CSA seems to favor the NASA tests, at least according to the July 16th, 2011 Post News article "'Robotic handyman' to learn new tricks" which quotes Mathieu Caron, the supervisor of the CSA mission control team as stating "we're pushing Dextre a little harder." According to the article, the remotely controlled, Canadian built, Dextre robot (also known as the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator or SPDM) will learn to refuel satellites in flight and lay the groundwork to "save them from drifting off as space junk or burning up in Earth's atmosphere." Since MDA technology is part of the NASA tests (MDA manufactures and maintains DEXTRE), it's hard to see the downside to independent validation of this capability so perhaps the CSA advocacy is well placed.
|Telesat corporate HQ. Still in Ottawa.|
|Steve MacLean offering suggestions.|
- A number of mainstream Canadian news articles and editorials, created to coincide with the last flight of the US space shuttle program, have come out recently asking "what's next in space for Canada?" These include the July 8th, 2011 CBC News post "Canada's future space flight plans up in the air," the July 8th, 2011 Edmonton Journal article "Canada stalled in new space race" and the July 8th, 2011 Global News article “Securing Canada’s spot in the space race.” For it's part, the CSA has at least attempted to counter some of the questions that these articles are raising with the July 8th, 2011 press release "Canadian Space Agency President Steve MacLean's Space Shuttle Program Message" with it's suggestion of increased "scientific and technical use of the International Space Station" and preparation "for the journey to distant planets." It will be interesting to see if these mainstream media questions continue and begin moving away from the simple "who, what, when and where" into a more complex discussion of "why" the Canadian space industry is where it's at today.
For those interested in some rousing imagery, below is a CSA produced tribute to the space shuttle program. Now that the last shuttle mission is almost complete, the next great space race can finally begin.
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