Sunday, June 03, 2012

Meteorites, ITAR, a Secret Consortium of Research Universities & Astronauts from Manitoba

June brings a certain lethargy to Ottawa and government departments in general as Parliament prepares to adjourn until the second Monday following Labour Day. However, important events and activities normally continue with or without government participation and this is true even for space focused activities.

A meteorite from the University of Alberta collection.
With that in mind, here are a few of the stories, events and activities currently being tracked in the Commercial Space blog:
  • According to the June 2nd, 2012 Ottawa Citizen article "Meteorite research puts Canada in higher orbit,"scientists and geologists are are preparing for the time, "when major space powers will send robot probes to asteroids or Mars" and Canada is well placed to take advantage of these activities. The article quotes Carleton University professor of Earth sciences Claire Samson as stating that, "meteorite research in Canada is not well funded. (But) we are innovative and creative and we do it anyway.” Sampson also discussed innovation and how it often lies in finding new uses for existing equipment, such as using a re-purposed medical CT scanner to look inside rocks without the need to break them apart.
An ITAR compliant blog?
  • A June 1st, 2012 post on the Space Safety Magazine website under the title "Renewed Hope for Export Control Reform" is suggesting that the recent release of a combined report from the US Departments of Defense and State titled "Risk Assessment of United States Space Export Control Policy," offers good news for satellite exporters. The report "recommended that communications satellites that do not contain classified components, remote sensing satellites that fall below specific technical performance thresholds, and components for such satellites be moved from the USML to the less restrictive Commerce Control List (CCL), making it easier for US companies to sell those items to foreign customers." But as outlined in my November 11th, 2011 post "Is The Space Industry Really "Uniting in Criticism over ITAR?"," large US corporations normally benefit from complex regulations such as ITAR and often advocate them because the increased cost of compliance serves as a barrier to entry for new competitors. Given that, no one is seriously expecting changes to the regulations anytime soon, no matter how many new government reports happen to get released.
Suzanne Corbeil.
Rob Bendall.
  • An old school bush pilot from Manitoba and an Ex-Snowbird flyer are now scheduled to fly SpaceShipTwo into space and will likely become Canada's next astronauts. As outlined in the May/ June issue of Canadian Aviator magazine, Winnipeg natives Rob Bendall, a former bush pilot and Vince Jandrisch, an ex-Canadian forces Snowbird demonstration pilot will be among the first to fly paying customers to the edge of space aboard the Virgin Galactic fleet of suborbital spacecraft. The first commercial flights are expected sometime in 2014.

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