Saturday, June 15, 2013

PM Appoints Former Chief of Defence Staff to Head Canadian Space Agency

Then Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk salutes after laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial on November 11th, 2011 (Photo c/o Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press).

As outlined most recently in the February 9th, 2013 blog post "Are Military and Space Procurement Issues Related," there has always been a great deal of overlap between the military and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) when it comes to the issues surrounding procurement.

It seems that others now agree.

On Friday, the Federal government announced that retired Chief of Defense Staff, Walter Natynczyk would be the next president of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), effective August 6th. Among his challenges will be to assist with the government response to the November 2012 Aerospace Review, which explicitly criticized CSA procurement.

Of course, until October 2012, General Natynczyk was Canada's top soldier, with direct responsibility for over 115,000 other soldiers, sailors and airmen along with the responsibility for supervising an annual budget of $19Bln annually. As the next CSA president, his area of responsibilities will include approximately 700 employees and oversight of the far smaller $350Mln yearly CSA budget.

And those new responsibilities are expected to continue to shrink over the next few years.

As outlined in the December 12th, 2012 blog post "What the Space Volume of the Aerospace Review Actually Says," the Aerospace Review included a series of new CSA oversight recommendations, an acknowledgement of ongoing CSA procurement problems plus a recommendation to remove CSA from its current policy-making role and also from direct involvement in the design and manufacture of "space assets purchased by the government."
Acting CSA President Gilles Leclerc.

The aerospace review also noted the long term high growth among private space companies (around 10% a year over the last several years), even as national space agency budgets contract. The review called this a global "re-balancing" and it will be interesting to see how the new CSA president responds to this.

Natynczyk will replace current acting president Gilles Leclerc, who took over from ex-CSA president Steve MacLean, when MacLean retired abruptly in January 2013.

Earlier in the week, longtime CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield announced his retirement from the CSA after an illustrious 21 year career which included a recent stint as the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station (ISS).

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