Monday, March 03, 2014

The Canadian Space Agency is 25

Graphic c/o CSA.
          by Sarah Ansari-Manea

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) attained its 25th anniversary on March 1st.

Since its establishment in March 1989, the CSA has supported and participated in several milestones. Below are a few of the more notable high points:
  • December 15th,1989 - Bill C-16, which officially establishes the CSA, is passed by the Canadian House of Commons. Ratified by Royal Assent on May 10th, 1990, the bill came into force on December 14th, 1990 to tie together a series of disparate (and mostly independent) government funded satellite, rocketry and research programs, some going back to the second world war, into a centralized government program with a single budget.
The first team of Canadian astronauts in 1983. Back row, from left to right: Ken Money, Marc Garneau, Steve MacLean and Bjarni Tryggvason. Seated: Robert Thirsk and Roberta Bondar. Photo c/o CSA
  • June 9th, 1992  - After a grueling recruitment process, 5330 applications are winnowed down to a handful and new astronauts and Chris Hadfield, Daffyd (Dave) Williams, geologist Robert Stewart plus Julie Payette joined the CSA roster. As outlined on the CSA "Space Milestones" website, Stewart resigns a week later for personal reasons and is replaced by air force Captain Michael John Mackay, who leaves the astronaut program in 1995 for medical reasons.

John H. Chapman Space Centre in  Saint-Hubert, PQ. Photo c/o Treasury Board.
  • June, 1993 - The new CSA headquarters is completed in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. Housing the astronaut training facilities, control rooms, devoted labs and robots, this facility is state of the art. Three years later the building is renamed in honor of scientist John Herbert Chapman, who many consider to be the author of the first Canadian long-term space plan, in 1967.
  • June 3rd, 1994 - The outline of the second long-term Canadian space plan is discussed and finalized. As explained on the CSA website, “For the next ten years, the Canadian Space Program will be allocated $2.7 billion, including $500 million as the Canadian contribution to the International Space Station Program and upgraded support facilities for the RADARSAT program. There are also provisions for an Advanced Communications research program, the development of space technologies in partnership with industry and with other space agencies, funding for space science research in Canada, in particular in the areas of atmospheric studies and microgravity, and assignments of Canadian Astronauts for space shuttle missions.
Graphic c/o www.crisp.nus
  • November 4th, 1995 - Canada’s first Earth observation satellite, RADARSAT, is launched. As outlined in the April 15th, 2013 blog post, "The End for RADARSAT-1?" the satellite, now considered as only the first in a successful series, will continue to operate for the next eighteen years, well past the end of its designed lifespan.
  • April 23rd, 1996 - The Priroda module was launched to the Mir space station. Priroda contained a Canadian experimental facility, called the Microgravity Isolation Mount (MIM). MIM is one of many Canadian experiments that have flown on the shuttle to the Russian Mir space station or to the ISS.
Chris Hadfield. Photo c/o CSA.
  • April 19th, 2001 - Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to walk in space when he installed Canadarm2 and the first part of the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) on the ISS. The MSS is another one of Canada's contributions to help astronauts service the exterior of the ISS.
  • June 30th, 2003 - The Microvariability and Oscillations of STars (MOST) became Canada's first scientific satellite in more than 30 years. A tiny nano-satellite called CanX-1 built by University of Toronto students to demonstrate technologies was launched at the same time.
  • August 12th, 2003 - SCISAT-1, a Canadian-built satellite designed to probe the changes that take place in the ozone layer and other parts of the Earth's upper atmosphere, was launched.
  • August 4th, 2007 - NASA's Mars Phoenix spacecraft, carrying a Canadian-built weather station, was launched to explore the climate of Mars.
    The Canadarm. Photo NASA.
  • May 27th, 2009 - Bob Thirsk became the first Canadian astronaut to undertake a long duration stay in space. 
  • July 15th, 2009 - Julie Payette became the last CSA astronaut to fly on the space shuttle as part of the STS-127 mission aboard space shuttle Endeavour. During the 16-day flight to the ISS, Payette marked the first time two Canadians were in orbit at the same time by working alongside Bob Thirsk. 
  • July 8th, 2011 - The Canadarm's 90th and final shuttle mission took place as part of the STS-135 mission. 
  • February 25th, 2013 - Four Canadian satellites - including Canada's first dedicated military satellite, Sapphire, a satellite aimed at detecting asteroids flying near Earth as well as orbiting space debris, NEOSSAT, and two BRITE nanosatellites carrying tiny space telecopes - were launched.
  • September 29th, 2013 - Cassiope, a Canadian satellite meant for the observations of solar storms on Earth's ionosphere, was sent into orbit.
Sarah Ansari-Manea.
Of course there are many more noteworthy accomplishments, but the above are meant to visualize the great work that the CSA has been doing, and to demonstrate the scope of its accomplishments.

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

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