Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 2012 CASI ASTRO NanoSatellite Workshop

     An article by Azam Shaghaghi

Gary Geling.
Nano-satellites are usually considered to be small, low cost miniaturized satellites between one and ten kg (2.2 and 22 lb) but they're playing an increasingly critical, perhaps even "heavyweight" role in Canadian space activities.

According to Gary Geling, the Director of Science & Technology C4ISR (a term encompassing the four "C's" of command, control, communications and computers plus intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) at the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), “Nano-satellite technology has a key role in technology validation to link industry and academia. It is (also) an investment to maximize the benefits towards the national defense."

Organizers, speakers and participants of the 2012 NanoSatellite Workshop at Fairmont le Château Frontenac Hotel in Québec City on April 23rd, 2012.

He made those comments last night at the 2012 NanoSatellite Workshop, organized by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) as part of the biannual CASI ASTRO conference in Quebec. The workshop highlighted the importance of nano-satellite research from a national, international and industry perspective.

Canadian expertise in this area is well known internationally and includes capabilities developed through the various small satellites launched by the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) as part of the Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment Program and the work being done by Cambridge based COM DEV International and its subsidiary exactEarth LLP with the commercial use of small satellites to track global shipping.

But maintaining that expertise won't be easy and sessions like the nano-satellite workshop are an important first step to help bring together industry and government players to compare notes and exchange information.

Dr. David Kendall presenting at the 2012 Nanosatellite Workshop.

For example, in response to an audience question about the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) budget for nano-satellites, Dr. David Kendall, the Director General of the Space Science and Technology for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) stated that the CSA is concentrating "on the training aspect right now" because of budgetary restrictions.

Dr. Kendall also said the CSA is currently focusing resources on a slightly larger science satellite of around 252kg with greater capabilities. He suggested that industrial and academic partners, developing opportunities and funds from other agencies (like the National Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) will help with Canadian technological innovation and jobs creation.

Mr. Geling and Dr. Kendall weren't the only experts in attendance at the workshop. Other participants included Dan Showalter, the Director of the David Florida Laboratory (which acts as Canada's primary spacecraft assembly, integration and testing centre), Dr Robert Zee, the Director of the UTIAS-SFL and various representatives from the UK, Germany, Korea, and China interested in Canadian nano-satellite capabilities.

Zang Mingzhu providing background on upcoming China's space activities.

The nano-satellite workshop was followed by a session on "Women in Space" hosted by Joanna Boshouwers, the Program Director for Richmond based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) and a presentation on "China`s Future Space Programs 2011-2015" hosted by Zang Mingzhu, representing the China Academy of Space Technology

The 2012 CASI ASTRO conference continues in Quebec City through Thursday, April 26th.

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