Sunday, September 08, 2013

Emerson Update: Aerospace is Go but Space Still Stalled!

Industry Minister James Moore talking with reporters at the Abbotsford Air Show on August 9th, 2013. Photo c/o Richard Lamb/ Industry Canada.

Industry Minister James Moore has announced the role-out of a $110Mln CDN program originally recommended by the November 2012 Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (the Emerson Review).

The new program is essentially identical to the 3rd recommendation on page 12 of the first volume of the report (titled "Beyond the Horizon: Canada's Interests and Future in Aerospace"), which recommended that the Federal government "create a program to support large scale aerospace technology demonstration."

But funding recommendations from the second volume of the review, (titled "Reaching Higher: Canada's Interests and Future in Space"), especially those targeted at small business engineering and new-space start-ups, have not yet been publicly embraced by the current government.

The latest Emerson success, at least on the aviation side of the ledger, is promoted in the September 4th, 2013 Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) press release "Industry Minister James Moore Announces Launch of Technology Demonstrator Program," which is also available (with a few modifications) on the Federal government Canada News Centre website under the title "Harper Government Launches Key Aerospace and Defence Program."

As outlined in the press release, the Federal government will be moving forward to launch a new technology demonstrator program, to "fund large-scale technology demonstration projects designed to prove the viability of newly developed technologies prior to bringing them to market."

The program, first announced as part of the government’s 2013 Economic Action Plan and initially reported in the March 24th, 2013 post "Emerson's Space Plan Versus the Canadian Budget," will provide $110Mln CDN over four years with "a further annual commitment of $55Mln thereafter." As outlined in the press release, statements of interest for the program must be submitted by December 6th, 2013 and an announcement of approved projects will be made in the fall of 2014.

But while smaller Canadian space companies could certainly apply to the new program, there is no specific incentive for them to do so and many hoops to jump through. The majority of applicants are expected to be large aviation companies like Montreal based Bombardier.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. But what the smaller Canadian space industry is really looking for is outlined in the second volume of the Emerson report (not the first) and summarized in the December 12th, 2012 blog post "What the Space Volume of the Aerospace Review Actually Says."

Essentially, the equivalency between what the space industry wants and the aerospace industry has already been granted is predictable overall funding for procurement and programs (as outlined in the 4th recommendation on page 34. This would cost far less than the $1Bln CDN in additional funding promised over the next five years for the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, also announced in March 2013 and derived from Emerson 1st volume recommendations) plus an expansion of the funding allocated for programs which support the development of space technologies for enhanced industrial capabilities (part of the 7th recommendation, on page 41).

Key among these programs are the Space Technologies Development Program (STDP) and the Earth Observation Application Development Program (EOADP). These are currently Canadian Space Agency (CSA) managed programs for which Emerson recommended an overall additional $10Mln CDN per year during each of the next three years plus ongoing and consistent funding afterwards.

To its credit, as far back as the March 2013 Federal budget, the government indicated a willingness to tackle procurement and operational issues related to the space industry uncovered by the Emerson Review. According to the 2013 budget, the intention at the time, was to focus on:
... developing a series of strategic plans outlining the Government's space priorities over the short, medium and long term; establishing a Canadian Space Advisory Council to advise the Government on the development of these plans; stabilizing the budget of the Canadian Space Agency over the next 10 years and establishing cost-sharing models to support the development of new space projects; and implementing measures to expand the level of space-related commercial activity in Canada.
All of which is well and good. But all that strategic planning should have coalesced into something useful by now, in much the same way as policies and programs outlined in the first volume of the Aerospace Review are now being funded and implemented.

It's time to move forward with the recommendations in the second volume.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page