Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Original Canadian Space Program

John H. Chapman.

          by Sarah Manea

September 28th marks the 34th anniversary of the passing of Canadian space legend, John Herbert Chapman, the man credited with building the Canadian space program.

John Chapman was born in London, Ontario, on August 28th, 1921, to Lt. Col. Lloyd P. Chapman and Kathleen Saunders Chapman. His love of physics and spatial science pushed him to begin his career by working on radio broadcasting technologies, which is now considered as the initial steps of Canadian satellite technology.

He received his PhD in physics from McGill University, in Montreal, PQ, and began working at the Defense Research Board (DRB), later promoted to the Shirley's Bay location, in Ottawa, ON as a superintendent.

While working at Canada's Defense Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE), Chapman began, and perfected his team’s work on Canada's first satellite, Alouette. Initially intended to be a supplement for an American satellite, it was Chapman’s passion and persistence that lead to Alouette becoming the first Canadian satellite, launching successfully on the U.S. Thor-Agena rocket, in 1962, and allowing Canada to be the 3rd nation in space.

Because of this, Chapman could push to have three more Canadian satellites launched (Alouette 2, ISIS 1 and ISIS 2) to study the ionosphere and aurora borealis (Northern Lights).

The John H. Chapman Space Centre.
A report named the "Upper Atmosphere and Space Programs in Canada," later referred to as “The Chapman Report” in his honour, laid the foundations for the direction in which the future Canadian Space Agency (CSA) would take. It was in this work that John Chapman, and another brilliant man, Dr. Philip Lapp (who also contributed largely to the Alouette satellite, amongst other Canadian technological advancements), argued that our satellite technology should be used as more than just scientific experimentation, but as a tool to help patch up the communication problems across our very widespread and large nation.

He helped unite the far-fetched corner’s of the country, and in doing so, has saved and helped the lives of hundreds of Canadians that would have otherwise had no connection to major cities or populated areas. Canada’s space program was redirected thanks to this work, and the building of the Canadian Space Agency was named John H. Chapman Space Centre, out of respect to his contributions.

Because of Chapman’s efforts and life work, Canada is well known internationally for its communication technology and remote sensing satellites.

He contributed significantly to the progression and redirection of Canadian space science, and is in many cases treated as the father of Canadian space science.

Sarah Manea is an aspiring astrophysicist, currently completing a specialist in physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto.

1 comment:

  1. feel badly that I didn't nominate Phil Lapp for Chapman Award. He helped me do the one for Larry Clarke (3 times!). Phil certainly deserved it. I was just too worn down by CSA.


Support our Patreon Page