Friday, July 31, 2015

Part 3 of The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program

A 50th Anniversary; Rocket Interceptors; Buy American & Blue Streak



Hugh Dryden and Herbert Ribner in February 1959.
By Robert Godwin
The general confusion during the late 1950s about the merits of missile defence led to several questionable strategic decisions made by the Governments of Canada and the United Kingdom. 
The possibility of a third contestant in the Space Race, in the form of a Commonwealth space program hinged on the sharing of technology and financing amongst the various invested nations, but more significantly on the political choices made regarding the future defensive postures of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Just three days after the termination of the Avro Arrow interceptor program James C. Floyd, chief engineer for the cancelled aircraft, was scheduled to speak in Montreal at a Canadian Aeronautical Institute conference. The event was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of flight in the Commonwealth. Floyd was supposed to chair the Space Flight session where he would introduce Hugh Dryden (Deputy Administrator of the brand-new American National Aeronautics and Space Agency) who had come to Canada to explain the workings of the American space program.

Dryden was considered to be one of the world's top aeronautics experts, and in 1954 he had chaired a hearing between the Canadian National Research Council (NRC) and the management of A.V. Roe. The NRC had questioned Avro's performance predictions for the Arrow and had been quietly put in their place by Dryden who stated that Floyd's numbers were probably conservative and that as far as he was concerned the Avro team had no peers anywhere in the world. Not surprisingly Floyd didn't appear at the dinner in Montreal due to the chaos back at Avro, a sad irony almost certainly not lost on Dryden.

With Floyd unavailable the position of host fell to Dr Herbert Ribner.[1] Born in 1913 in Washington Ribner had been an acclaimed aerodynamicist at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics before moving to Canada and taking a position at the University of Toronto.[2] Dryden had been Ribner's boss at the NACA all through the late 1940s.

Ribner shared the chairmanship of the Canadian Aeronautical Institute's Astronautics Division with David Bogdanoff, a fellow American from Michigan who was head of the rocket research arm of Canadair and had played a major role in the Velvet Glove program. At the event Dryden made a dazzling presentation of American space assets showing the enormous array of projects in progress at that time.[3]

Solid Fueled Rocket Intercepters

The very next day Canada's largest rocket program began. The first firing of the new Canadian propellant took place on February 24th 1959 at the CARDE facility in Valcartier Quebec. The burn would output 20,000 pounds of thrust for 20 seconds, which was about 25% better than the standard Skylark.[4] Black Brant would be launched for the first time seven months later, on September 5th 1959, at the USAF-operated Churchill Rocket Range facility in Manitoba Canada.

Despite its military origins and funding Black Brant would never become an interceptor...




To Continue Reading Part 3 of 
"The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program"




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_________________________________________________________________________________

Robert Godwin.
Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books. He is also the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music. 

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Footnotes

1. Canadian Aeronautical Journal Apr 1959.
2. Graduate of Cal Tech, NACA alumni, Professor at the University of Toronto and Chairman of the Canadian Aeronautical Institute's Astronautics section
3. Recent Trends in Aeronautics and Space Research in the United States - Hugh Dryden - CAI Journal October 1959
4. Globe and Mail Feb 25 1959

Last Week: "Cancelling the Arrow; A Government Not Interested in Space; Sounding Rockets, 
the Black Brant & Velvet Glove," in part two of "The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program."

Next Week: "Britain follows Canada's Lead; Rearming the RCAF and the Commonwealth Space Symposium," as part four of "The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program" continues!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Up to $18.4Mln" More for the Downsview Aerospace Hub

          By Chuck Black

Finance Minister Oliver. Photo c/o Twitter.
After almost five years of "official" campaigning and a further fifteen years of preliminary proposals and politicking, the still not built Downsview Park aerospace hub and its centerpiece, the new Centennial College Aerospace campus, have been offered up more money.

Maybe this time, the facilities will even get built.

As outlined in the July 22nd, 2015 Canadian government press release, "Canada's Aerospace Industry to Reach New Heights in the GTA," Finance Minister Joe Oliver made the announcement that "up to" $18.4Mln CDN would be made available for Centennial College's Downsview Park Aerospace Campus under the Infrastructure Canada New Building Canada Plan.

Reaction to the announcement has been decidedly mixed.

The July 22nd, 2015 Toronto Star article, "Feds promise money for Centennial College aerospace hub," considered the announcement to be simply the latest in a series of similar announcements intended to sway the electorate in advance of the upcoming federal election, currently expected sometime on or before October 19th, 2015.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (left) tours a Centennial College aviation/avionics labs with Centennial College President Ann Buller. As outlined in the March 2014 Site Canada article, “Cultivating Ontario’s Aerospace Future at Downsview Park,” the provincial government, city leaders and an assortment of economic development entities then stood firmly behind the venture. Photo c/o Queens Printer.

And the July 22nd, 2015 Globe and Mail article, "Ottawa’s funding announcement for Tory riding blindsides Ontario," goes even further by quoting Ontario liberal government representatives as stating that that the new funding was "unanticipated" and "bypassed Ontario’s infrastructure wish list."

The article also quoted Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid as stating that it's not clear from the announcement when or how the money will be distributed. Duguid also called into question “whether they (the conservatives) are actually making a real commitment (to the plan).”

Downsview Park, part of the York Centre federal electoral district which was once considered one of the safest of Federal Liberal seats, is currently held by conservative MP Mark Adler

Perhaps the real mover and shaker behind the plans for a Downsview aerospace hub is Andrew Petrou. The co-founder of the Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR) and the special projects officer to the president's office at Centennial College, is shown here presenting plans for the DAIR Research Hub at Downsview Park in February 2014. As outlined in the November 14th, 2014 OMX blog post, "The Upcoming Downsview Aerospace Hub," it's "only been recently that we’ve been able to put together the major players needed to get a facility of this nature off the ground in Canada." According to Petrou, "up until now, the players have been trapped in silos and unable to engage in the cross pollination and communication necessary to build a true innovative culture.” In part, this may still be the case. Photo c/o Alex Urosevic/MEDTE.

Of course, it's not as if the current provincial government under Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is totally against the project. After all, as outlined in the January 22nd, 2014 Centennial College press release, "Centennial's Aerospace Centre cleared for take-off," her government also contributed $26Mln CDN in the not so distant past.

And, as outlined in the September 11th, 2011 post, "Canadian Aerospace Heritage or Hockey Rink?," Downsview Park was also once the home of the Canadian Air and Space Museum, which would certainly add to the current confusion over plans for any new faculties on the property. Until a home for the museum is found, there will be those wishing to return it to its original location.

Chuck Black
Taken together, these items are strong suggestions that the political ducks are not yet properly aligned to move potential plans forward.

Until they are, don't expect any movement on this front.
_____________________________________________________________

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

This Week in Space History: July 28th - August 3rd

          Compiled by Matt Heimbecker

Here are a few of the more noteworthy entries in the Space Library covering the week of July 28th - August 3rd:

  • July 28, 1969 - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers sent signals to Mariner VI to turn on its TV camera and scientific experiments that would measure Mars surface characteristics and atmosphere. The spacecraft (launched on February 24th as part of the first "dual mission" to Mars along with Mariner VII) would begin taking the first of 33 far-encounter pictures 771,500 miles from Mars beginning early July 29th. Full-disc photos would be received at JPL on July 29th.
  • July 29th, 1993 the team behind the Array of Low-Energy X-ray Imaging Sensors (ALEXIS) satellite, which was launched into orbit April 25th on board an Air Force Pegasus rocket for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, announced that scientists now expect to get much of the data they seek from the damaged satellite. Officials at the New Mexico laboratory had hoped to demonstrate that they could handle space missions faster, better, and cheaper than NASA. However, one of the satellite's four solar panels was damaged during the launch, and the satellite was deemed a loss. Unmanned satellites frequently diagnose their own maladies, make adjustments needed to survive, and allow themselves to be reprogrammed in orbit. This is what happened to ALEXIS, which on July 5th was brought under control and a week later conducted its first experiment. The craft used six telescopes to capture x-rays that could reveal evidence of weapons proliferation, and it carries an experiment designed to determine how Earth's atmosphere distorts radio signals.

Page one of an eleven page document which rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard created in order to receive US patent #1341053 for a "magazine rocket" in 1920. The document is one of many available in electronic format at The Space Library

  • July 30th, 1982 - Cosmonauts Anatoly Berezovoy and Valentin Lebedev made a space walk from the orbiting station Salyut 7 to disassemble and partially replace worn out equipment on the station's exterior and study opportunities for doing various jobs outside it. After they donned space suits, Lebedev left the station for the "zone" of operations, while Berezovoy remained in the open manhole to film his walk for television. They dismantled and passed into the station a micrometeorite-measuring instrument and some panels with optical and various structural materials that had been outside the station since its launch April 19th.
  • July 31st, 2008 - A team of scientists led by Robert H. Brown of the University of Arizona, Tucson, announced in the journal Nature that NASA’s ESA spacecraft had gathered evidence that Saturn’s moon Titan has at least one lake of liquid hydrocarbons. The discovery made Titan the only known celestial body, besides Earth, to have liquid on its surface. Data from previous fly-bys had shown that Titan has several features that appear to be lakes, but scientists had been unsure whether these bodies contained liquid or solid material.
  • August 1st, 1963 - The MARINER II interplanetary space probe completed its first orbit of the sun, after traveling approximately 540,000,000 mi. Launched Aug. 27th, 1962, the spacecraft passed within 21,648 mi. of Venus Dec. 14th, 1962, and provided 111 million bits of information on Venus and interplanetary space.
  • August 2nd 1991 - The scheduled launch of Atlantis on August 1st was delayed by a false alarm over a pressure valve and then by bad weather, the media reported. The launch was then rescheduled for August 2nd. The astronauts' first task after takeoff was to launch the $120Mln USD ($156.5Mln CDN) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, which was done successfully.

The first page of a three page 1936 German patent issued to Rudolf Nebel, a spaceflight advocate active in Germany's amateur rocket group, the Verein fΓΌr Raumschiffahrt (VfR – "Spaceflight Society") in the 1930s and in rebuilding German rocketry following World War II. The document one of many available online at The Space Library.

  • August 3rd, 1975 - The Philadelphia Inquirer reported  space expenditures resulted in tangible economic benefits, according to a report, "The Economic Impact of NASA R&D Spending," being prepared for NASA by Chase Econometric Associates, Inc. Using methods developed for regular national economic forecasts, Chase predicted that, if NASA's research and development budget were increased by $1Bln USD ($1.3Bln CDN) for the 1975-84 period, the US gross national product (GNP) would swell by $23Bln USD ($30Bln CDN) or 2% over the normal rate of growth. Labor productivity in the non-farm areas of the economy would rise more than 2% over the normal growth rate, and more than one million jobs would be created, reducing the unemployment rate by nearly 0.4% by 1984.
The Space Library, designed and built by the people at Burlington, Ontario based Apogee Books, is currently in beta test but even now contains 6,656 documents and over thirty thousand pages of first generation source materials from NASA and others covering almost the entirety of humanity's expansion into the high frontier.

Access to all the documents contained within the The Space Library is only $5.00 CDN a month. For more information, please click on the links below.



Your $5.00 CDN monthly subscription will help to support both the Space Library and 
the Commercial Space blog.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Space Economy Now $330Bln US Annually, Says Report

          By Glen Strom

After years of steady, respectable growth hovering around 7% per annum, the global space industry appears to be on the cusp of a new era of rapid expansion in both capabilities and customers. At least those are the conclusions embedded within The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity.

The eighty five page report, prepared by the Colorado Springs, CO based Space Foundation (a nonprofit organization that advocates for the global space industry) with input from the not-for-profit European trade association Eurospace, was released earlier this month.

According to the report, in 2014, the global space economy grew slightly more than 9%, reaching a total of $330Bln USD ($430.5Bln CDN). 

Commercial space activities such as telecommunications and Earth imaging made up approximately 76% of the total. 

From 2005 - 2014, the industry as a whole demonstrated a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%, nearly doubling in size over the course of the decade.

One of the more interesting items in the annual Space Report is the ability to compare the budgets of the national space agencies. For example, according to this chart, on page 22 of the 2015 Space Report, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funding grew by 11.8% between 2013 and 2014 which compares quite well with other space agencies and puts the CSA in fourth place behind the United Kingdom (with a 31.4% budget increase during that same period), South Korea (a 29.9% increase) and Japan (an 18.8% increase). But a second chart on page 26 of the report indicated that CSA funding for 2015 will be expected to drop back to  $410.3Mln CDN in 2015 and $360.3Mln CDN in 2016. The source for the second chart is the Canadian Space Agency 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities. Graphic c/o Space Foundation.

The report noted that the global space industry was attracting new customers just learning to make use of space assets like satellite imagery to enhance their businesses. Some of these industries provide communication and lifestyle products and services that a rapidly growing number of people use in their day-to-day lives.

The report even went into detail concerning the benefits of using space assets to deliver products and services to government organizations, private commercial companies, industry, law enforcement and public education organizations. Given that the report was compiled by two space advocacy organizations, this seems like a perfectly reasonable addendum to the main report.

The international space industry is a $330Bln per annum behemoth which receives slightly less than one quarter of its revenue from national governments through agencies like the CSA, the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Source Space Foundation.

Other highlights of the report include:
  • Satellite launches during 2014 increased 38% over 2013, with cube satellites accounting for a large part of the increase. The sector lost 13.6% of its value, though, due to the reduction of high-value military launches.
  • Almost 80% of satellites launched were placed in low Earth orbit (LEO).
  • Ground stations and equipment made up 94% of the commercial infrastructure and support sector within the space industry.
  • Broadcasting is a major part of the growth of the space industry with direct-to-home television accounting for US$95Bln USD ($124Bln CDN), or 77% of the market’s estimated revenues in 2014.
  • In the United States, the space industry workforce continued to shrink by about 6,000 people. It also grew older, with the average age at about 46 years old.
  • Although NASA is shrinking, Europe's space workforce has grown by 7,600 employees since 2005. The growth in Europe is not spread evenly, though. France, Germany and Spain saw growth—the other countries saw a decrease
  • Support industries like insurance, data analysis and basic research and development activities are joining more traditional areas such as launch vehicles and satellite design, manufacturing and testing as significant generators of revenue and new jobs. 
Glen Strom.
Although the data is skewed toward the United States, The Space Report 2015: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity offers a good overview of the world’s growing space economy.

The report, and the additional data available by subscription, can be a useful addition to an organization’s short and long-term planning.
_____________________________________________________
Glen Strom is a freelance writer and editor with a background in business and technical writing. He's also the editor of The Gazette Weekly, the newsletter of the Canadian Space Society.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Part 2 of The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program

Cancelling the Arrow; A Government Not Interested in Space; Sounding Rockets, 

the Black Brant & Velvet Glove



January 1959 CAS submission to Prime Minister Diefenbaker.
By Robert Godwin
The general confusion during the late 1950s about the merits of missile defence led to several questionable strategic decisions made by the Governments of Canada and the United Kingdom. 
The possibility of a third contestant in the Space Race, in the form of a Commonwealth space program hinged on the sharing of technology and financing amongst the various invested nations, but more significantly on the political choices made regarding the future defensive postures of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
On January 12th 1959 Phil Lapp and the members-in-council of the Canadian Astronautical Society (CAS) sent a brief to Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker urging him to support Canada’s involvement in a Commonwealth Space Program. In part the brief said, "Canadian participation in the program would be of great value toward sponsoring and maintaining in this country a nucleus of scientists and engineers proficient in the vital space research frontier, and at the same time permit this country to take its rightful place in the astronautical field."

The brief then went on to urge the government of Canada to send up to four scientists to London to attend the already-planned Commonwealth space summit. The response from Diefenbaker was swift and essentially said that he was deferring to his Defence Minister; Victoria Cross winner, General George Pearkes. On February 6th Pearkes replied that the government was not in a position to be sending either participants or observers from the CAS or from any other organisation to either the symposium or the IAC in London.[1]

Surprisingly the Defence Minister showed no interest in sending anyone to learn the latest information about missiles, which was, of course, what everyone would be discussing at IAC. This was all the more remarkable considering what happened two weeks later. On February 20th the Government of Canada withdrew their support for the CF-105 Avro Arrow fighter interceptor program, in favour of missiles; specifically the Boeing Bomarc-B medium range surface-to-air nuclear missile.


A Government Not Interested in Space

The day before replying to the CAS Pearkes had been in a secret cabinet meeting at which his own Chief of Air Staff had told him that in his opinion, regardless of the geopolitical state at that moment, Canada would still need 100 to 115 top-notch interceptors with which to defend itself.[2] But at the exact moment when Pearkes was discarding his fighters and committing Canada to missiles he seems to have chosen to disregard the potential importance of missiles for space research...




To Continue Reading Part 2 of 
"The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program"




Your $5.00 CDN monthly subscription will help to support both the Space Library and 
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_________________________________________________________________________________

Robert Godwin.
Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books. He is also the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music. 

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Footnotes

1. Proceedings of the CAS Vol 1 No 1 Feb 1959
2. Minutes of Cabinet Defence Committee Feb 5th 1959

Last Week: "The Beginning; How to Build a Space Program & the Canadian Astronautical Society," in part one of "The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program."

Next Week: "A 50th Anniversary; Rocket Interceptors; Buy American & Blue Streak," as part three of "The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program" continues!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bye, Bye, Blackbridge

          By Brian Orlotti

The RapidEye constallation. Image c/o BlackBridge via EO Portal.
On July 15th, Lethbridge, AB. based BlackBridge Corp, owners of the RapidEye earth-imaging constellation of five satellites, was purchased by San Francisco, CA. based Planet Labs Inc. for an undisclosed amount. The deal comes amid a series of acquisitions throughout the earth-observation satellite industry in an attempt to meet increasing demand for Earth imagery.

The deal gives Planet Labs access to both BlackBridge's RapidEye satellite constellation as well as its large archive of earth imagery. The RapidEye satellites are larger and can observe larger swaths of Earth (albeit at lower resolution) than Planet Labs' existing micro and nanosatellites.

In a phone interview with BloombergBusiness, Planet Labs CEO Will Marshall stated that BlackBridge's archive will be essential in developing machine-learning software that can extract useful data from satellite images.

Prior to the Planet Labs' acquisition, and as outlined in the May 31st, 2014 post, "BlackBridge Secures $22 Million for New Satellite Constellation," the firm had been a rising star in the Canadian earth-imaging field because of its 2011 purchase of bankrupt German satellite firm RapidEye AG and its five satellite earth-imaging constellation.

The RapidEye constellation was built by Guildford, UK based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), under contract from Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA), which designed the satellites. It was funded by the European Union (EU), the German State of Brandenburg and a banking consortium consisting of Commerzbank, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the KfW Banking Group. Each RapidEye satellite measures less than one cubic meter and weighs 150 kg. Combined, the five satellites can collect five million km² worth of imagery at a five metre resolution, daily.

RapidEye image of Alaska, USA, collected in September 11, 2012. Image c/o BlackBridge via EO Portal.

In May 2014, Blackbridge secured $22Mln CDN in funding from the Bank of Montreal and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to begin development of a new satellite constellation to be called RapidEye+. This new constellation would have comprised five satellites with both greater resolution (one metre as compared to five) and higher storage capacity than the original RapidEye satellites. The RapidEye+ constellation was to have been launched in 2019.

Blackbridge's acquisition comes less than a month after Vancouver, BC based UrtheCast Corp., announced its purchase of Deimos Imaging from Spanish energy utility Elecnor SA for €76.4Mln EUR ($107.4Mln CDN). In 2014, Google Inc.. acquired Skybox Imaging Inc. for $500Mln USD ($647Mln CDN)

The geospatial industry buying spree has gained momentum as demand for earth imagery from investors, the financial industry, governments, and non-governmental organizations surges. These various players utilize satellite imagery for everything from pollution monitoring to urban planning to investor due diligence.

Brian Orlotti.
Though it is unfortunate to see a Canadian success story like Blackbridge end with transfer of ownership to the US, the emergence of new Canadian players like UrtheCast and the vitality of the geospatial industry as a whole bode well for the future.
______________________________________________________________

Brian Orlotti is a network operations centre analyst at Shomi, a Canadian provider of on-demand internet streaming media and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Part 1 of The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program

The Beginning; How to Build a Space Program & the Canadian Astronautical Society



By Robert Godwin
British aircraft engineer Geoffrey de Havilland circa 1960.
The general confusion during the late 1950s about the merits of missile defence led to several questionable strategic decisions made by the Governments of Canada and the United Kingdom. 
The possibility of a third contestant in the Space Race, in the form of a Commonwealth space program hinged on the sharing of technology and financing amongst the various invested nations, but more significantly on the political choices made regarding the future defensive postures of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
When Geoffrey De Havilland committed to building an aircraft factory in Canada in 1927 Britain was still a global power, despite the immense losses and repercussions of World War I. Canada was independent but continued to be perceived by many, both at home and abroad, as part of the British Empire. During World War II Canada "came of age" and provided Britain with a disproportionate amount of military hardware, particularly aircraft such as the Avro Lancaster bomber and the De Havilland Mosquito fighter. A vigorous exchange of engineering skills and personnel took place between the two countries, before, during and after the war.

Between the 1920s and 1950s vast sums of money were spent building Canada into a competitive world-class center of aerospace science and engineering. In the late 1940s and early 1950s much of Britain’s industrial energies were tied up rebuilding the country’s infrastructure after the Second World War.

The birth of the long-range strategic missile during that conflict, and during the subsequent Cold War, raised the stakes until Britain no longer had the resources to project itself onto the world stage with the same big-stick as the Soviet Union and the United States. The British government banned the export of capital from the UK and so large corporate concerns like A.V. Roe and De Havilland could only continue their Canadian ventures by offering "in kind" services, which frequently took the form of the transfer of skilled personnel. Many of those British engineers and scientists chose to permanently emigrate to Canada and Australia in search of better opportunities.

By the summer of 1958, the UK parent of A.V. Roe Canada, Hawker Siddeley, was publicly trumpeting its Canadian success story. British reporters were literally catching flights to Canada just to interview the daily flood of emigrant engineers. Employees at "Avro" and its branch subsidiaries had escalated from 300 in 1945 to 41,000 in 1958; during the same period sales at Avro rose from zero to $310M.[1]

The rival De Havilland Company, also headquartered in England, had a net asset reserve of just over £19M (£400M in 2015) and its Beaver aircraft continued to be churned out of their factory at Downsview in Toronto. The Beaver had performed so well during the International Geophysical Year (56-57) that no less than three different geographical features had been named after it in Antarctica, and the US Congress had actually passed a special dispensation to allow it to be purchased by the US military...[2]


To Continue Reading Part 1 of "The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program"




Your $5.00 CDN monthly subscription will help to support both the Space Library and 
the Commercial Space blog.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Robert Godwin.
Robert Godwin is the owner and founder of Apogee Space Books. He is also the Space Curator at the Canadian Air & Space Museum

He has written or edited over 100 books including the award winning series "The NASA Mission Reports" and appeared on dozens of radio and television programs in Canada, the USA and England as an expert not only on space exploration but also on music. 

His books have been discussed on CNN, the CBC, the BBC and CBS 60 Minutes. He produced the first ever virtual reality panoramas of the Apollo lunar surface photography and the first multi-camera angle movie of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. His latest book was written with the late Frederick I Ordway III and is called "2001 The Heritage and Legacy of the Space Odyssey" about the history of spaceflight at the movies.

Footnotes

1. Daily Express Oct 30 1958
2. De Havilland Gazette June 1959

Next Week: "Cancelling the Arrow; A Government Not Interested in Space; Sounding Rockets, the Black Brant & Velvet Glove" as part 2 of "The Empire Strikes Out - Canada's Defence & The Commonwealth Space Program" continues!

This Week in Space History: July 21st - July 27th

          Compiled by Matt Heimbecker

The Space Library, designed and built by the people at Burlington, Ontario based Apogee Books, is currently in beta test but even now contains 6,656 documents and over thirty thousand pages of first generation source materials from NASA and others covering almost the entirety of humanity's expansion into the high frontier.

Here are a few of the more noteworthy entries for the week of July 21st - 27th:
  • July 21st, 1966 -  The US and USSR agreed in discussions at Geneva to a treaty article on exploration of space barring any state from claiming sovereignty over space, including the moon and planets. The article was approved by a 28-nation UN Legal Subcommittee, using draft accords submitted by US and USSR. The subcommittee also accepted an article binding states to conduct space exploration in accordance with international law and in the interest of international peace.
  • July 22nd, 1969 - Scientists at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (now known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center), while monitoring seismometers left on the lunar surface by Apollo 11 astronauts, recorded a five-minute tremor they said could have been either an internal activity (such as a moon quake) or a meteoroid strike impacting on the surface. The scientists also expressed concern that the monitoring seismometer was overheating, probably because of damage to a protective cover from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) exhaust and might not survive the heat of the lunar noon.

A NASA Apollo 10 Technical Crew briefing, which is available in full online at The Space Library.

  • July 23rd, 1966 - The USSR objected to a US proposal to allow military equipment to be used on the moon or other celestial bodies, even when used for peaceful purposes. Platon Morozov, the deputy acting permanent USSR United Nations representative, told the Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) meeting in Geneva to draft a treaty governing outer space exploration. He said such a provision would create a loophole for violations; he was prepared, however, to accept the document with a few minor modifications to other provisions of US draft article.
  • July 24th, 1975 - The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project reflected the "progress made in the relations between our two nations and ... the successes of the policy of peaceful coexistence, and promotes a further improvement of the international situation, and the strengthening of mutually rewarding contacts," Acting President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences Vladimir Kotelnikov said at a press briefing.
  • July 25th, 1991 - Vice President Dan Quayle, speaking as chairman of the National Space Council, said the US would not buy or build more Space Shuttle orbiters and would instead continue to use the four existing orbiters into the next century while also developing a new family of rockets to replace the current fleet of unmanned vehicles. NASA Administrator Richard H. Truly said he helped devise the policy's wording and was "totally in support" of it.

Industry sales literature showing the capabilities of the US Space Shuttle available online at The Space Library.

  • July 26th, 1965 - Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, NASA Deputy Administrator, said during a recent interview that the next step beyond the initial Apollo lunar landings was to extend the usefulness of both spacecraft and launch vehicle to permit longer stays in earth orbit and on the moon. "This fall we will have to make a definite recommendation to fund one or both," he said.
Access to all the documents contained within the The Space Library is only $5.00 CDN a month. For more information please click on one of the links.



Your $5.00 CDN monthly subscription will help to support both the Space Library and 
the Commercial Space blog.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Say Hello to My Little Friends!!!

          By Chuck Black

Pluto, the little dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt which was the first trans-Neptunian object discovered by terrestrial astronomers, is in the news this week as the NASA New Horizons spacecraft begins to send back all the data accumulated from its Pluto flyby on July 14th.

With any luck, the interest will continue for quite some time to come.

As outlined in the April 14th, 2015 New Horizons webpage under the title "NASA's New Horizons Nears Historic Encounter with Pluto," the spacecraft will require approximately 16 months after it has left the vicinity of Pluto (or any expected future target object) in order to transmit back to Earth the buffer load of data it collected.

Our domestic contribution to the flight is also of note.

As outlined in the July 12th, 2015 Globe and Mail article, "Canadian map of the stars guides the way for NASA’s Pluto probe," the spacecraft is using a Canadian made map to guide its journey.

But perhaps the most important, and certainly the least mentioned news surrounding the flyby, is that voyages of discovery still have a place within the traditional media news cycle.

Of course, alternative news sites, individuals and even small businesses are also looking to help tell the story of this event.

To the right is an info-graphic created by Steven Meyer Jr. who works for Excede Internet, a US based internet service provider.

According to Meyer:
I'm simply a space enthusiast who enjoys learning more about the expansive universe we live in. 
Exceed Internet, the company I work for, likes to host educational items on their site and loved the idea when I asked them to host it on their website. 
They mentioned that they wouldn't mind me making some more science-themed graphics. If you'd like I can send them to you if I make any more.
This blog looks forward to future contributions from Meyer, his colleagues at Excede and from others with a similar interest.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, July 13, 2015

SABRE's Secret Sauce

          By Brian Orlotti

Reaction Engines Limited, a UK-based firm developing a game-changing new type of rocket engine, has published a paper which sheds some light on one of the technology's key secrets.

Alan Bond, the founding director of Reaction Engines and the inventor of the SABRE engine, discusses the heat exchanger testing programme for the engine in this July, 2012 video. The SABRE concept derived from a 1980's British design for a single stage to orbit reusable winged launch vehicle, called the Horizontal Take-Off and Landing (HOTOL) concept, which Bond helped to develop. Bond was also involved with the development of the Blue Streak medium range ballistic missile and Project Daedalus, a study conducted between 1973 and 1978 by the British Interplanetary Society to design a plausible unmanned interstellar spacecraft. Screen shot and video c/o Reaction Engines.

As outlined in the July 11th, 2015 Next Big Future article "Skylon spaceplane developers reveal the antifreeze method for the sabre hypersonic engine," the Oxfordshire based firm is developing a synergistic air-breathing rocket engine (SABRE). The engine is designed to propel the planned Skylon spaceplane at hypersonic (Mach 5.5+) speeds while in Earth's atmosphere, then switch to a purely rocket mode (around Mach 27+) in order to reach low Earth orbit.

The key to SABRE's ability to function as both an aircraft and rocket engine is a complex heat-exchanger system that allows oxygen to be drawn directly from Earth's atmosphere to oxidize the on-board hydrogen fuel.

The SABRE's heat-exchanger chills incoming air from more than 1,000C to -150C in less than 1/100th of a second before passing it through a turbo-compressor and into the rocket combustion chamber, where it's then burned with liquid hydrogen. Until recently, the means by which SABRE achieved this without ice-buildup in the pre-cooler was a closely guarded secret.

This April 27th, 2012 BBC News report on Skylon compared the space plane to traditional rockets. At the time, development was considered to be at a "critical" stage where development concepts needed to be validated before moving forward with the building of the full scale test vehicle. As outlined in the July 16th, 2013 Guardian article, "UK earmarks £60m for super-fast space rocket engine," the UK government has slowly begun to move forward since then. Graphic and video c/o BBC News.

But, according to the article at least, the SABRE engine uses simple methanol as an antifreeze.

According to Mark Thomas, a managing director at Reaction Engines, the company chose to go public with its frost control technology due to pending patent applications. He stated:
The trigger for patenting was the awareness that to execute this program we are going to have to involve other companies. You can’t keep trade secrets very long in that situation, so it is better to be protected formally and legally on the clever stuff...
Though the company is developing the SABRE engine primarily for the Skylon spaceplane, the propulsion system and its pre-cooler technology are attracting wider interest for use in future aircraft and two-stage space launch vehicles.

Perhaps the ultimate commercial application for the SABRE engine could be this 300 passenger aircraft. As outlined in the November 29th, 2012 Mail Online article, "One step closer to space travel: Engine breakthrough could see jets fly from London to Sydney in less than five hours," the real test of space technology is whether it can be commercialized to perform useful functions on Earth. Graphic c/o  Mail Online.

In 2011, Reaction Engines announced that they had secured $350Mln USD ($446.5Mln CDN) contingent on a successful test of the engine's precooler technology (which the company achieved in 2012). In July of 2013, the UK government pledged an additional £60 million GBP ($118.5Mln CDN) to the project, enabling a full-scale prototype of the SABRE engine to be built.

By 2015, the company had attracted the attention of the Americans. As outlined in the April 15th, 2015 Engineer.UK article, "ARFL confirms feasibility of Reaction Engines’ SABRE engine concept," various US based organizations, including the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL) had concluded that there was something to the SABRE concept.

Skylon is single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane that will take off from a conventional runway, accelerating to Mach 5.4 at 26 kilometres altitude using the atmosphere's oxygen to oxidize its onboard hydrogen fuel before switching to the internal liquid oxygen supply for travel to Earth orbit.

Once in orbit, the craft would release its payload of up to 15 tonnes to a 300 km equatorial orbit, then reenter the atmosphere (protected by a ceramic composite skin) and land on a runway.

Skylon could also carry up to 11 tonnes to the International Space Station (ISS), almost 45% more capacity than the European Space Agency's (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) spacecraft.

Portrait photograph from a ninth-plate daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau by Calvin R. Greene. According to Thoreau, "In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high." Photo c/o Wikipedia.

Reaction Engines' design goals for Skylon are a turnaround time of two days between flights and to be potentially reusable for 200 flights. Skylon will initially be unpiloted, but can also be certified to carry passengers.

Brian Orlotti.
The last time the UK stood on the cusp of such world-changing innovation was during the 1950's with the advent of the DeHaviland Comet commercial airliner. Although that aircraft was plagued by fatal flaws, Skylon seems poised to accomplish something far greater. 
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Brian Orlotti is a network operations centre analyst at Shomi, a Canadian provider of on-demand internet streaming media and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Did RADARSAT-2 Find HMS Erebus?

          By Chuck Black

The final chapter on Sir John Franklin's 1845 expedition to traverse the remaining, unexplored sections of the famed Northwest Passage has developed a distinctly modern, and very political, twist.

Pulitzer prize winning photographer/reporter Paul Watson has resigned from Canada's largest daily newspaper over allegations that his bosses at the Toronto Star refused to publish a story of "significant public interest," relating to the September 2014 discovery of the wreck of one of the lost ships from the expedition.

HMS Erebus and HMS Terror leaving Greenhithe, England, on the morning of 19 May 1845, under the command of  Captain Sir John Franklin, in an ill-fated attempt to traverse the remaining unexplored sections of the Northwest passage. Both vessels were classified as Royal Navy bomb ships, a type built with extremely strong hulls to withstand the recoil of the mortars which they normally carried. This made the ships ideal for exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where the stronger hulls provided protection against pack ice and icebergs. Despite this protection, both ships (along with Franklin and 128 other officers and crew) were lost sometime after July 1845. As outlined in the September 8th, 2014 CBC News article, "Lost Franklin expedition ship found in the Arctic," no less a personage than Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in 2014 that the wreck of HMS Erebus had been found. Graphic originally published in the May 24th, 1845 edition of the Illustrated London News.

According to Watson, and as outlined in the July 8th, 2015 CBC radio program "As It Happens" segment "Journalist Paul Watson on the Franklin Expedition & his Toronto Star resignation," the real story began in April 2015, when various government employees "who were experts in their field (and the) people who actually did find that ship" became angry over news reports surrounding the discovery, but were unable to correct the public record for fear of "losing their jobs."

One specific program acted as a lightning rod for their anger; the April 9th, 2015 CBC documentary on "Franklin's Lost Ships," an episode of the long running CBC program "The Nature of Things."

Watson, the only journalist on the lead Canadian icebreaker involved in the 2014 Victoria Strait expedition which found the Erebus, said that those involved with the search were specifically concerned over accounts originating from John G. Geiger, the ex-editorial board editor of the Globe and Mail and current CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), "which these experts believed were incorrect."

The RCGS was heavily involved with the most recent search for the HMS Erebus. Geiger was also the co-author of the 2004 book, "Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition."

A screenshot from "Franklin's Lost Ships," which first aired on April 9th, 2015 and was cited by Watson as being the catalyst which drove his current efforts. The complete program is available online at no charge on the CBC website. Screenshot c/o CBC.

According to Watson, Geiger had direct access to "at least one source" in the prime minister's office along with access to the editors at the Star and worked to kill the story. A useful overview of those attempts which eventually culminated in Watson's resignation is included in the July 8th, 2015 CanadaLand post "Q&A with Paul Watson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, on why he just Resigned from the Toronto Star" and the July 9th follow-up "Paul Watson vs. the Toronto Star."

Of course, Watson isn't the only one objecting to the spin the Federal government seems to be putting on the HMS Erebus discovery. Former Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie, who contributed money and a research vessel through the Arctic Research Foundation (which he founded along with businessman Tim MacDonald), and who used his Ottawa connections to secure support from other government departments for the expedition, also expressed concerns.

As outlined in his April 30th, 2015 letter to environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, Balsillie was "concerned that the (CBC) documentary contains information that runs contrary to the planning meeting we held in your office on June 9th, 2014 and filmed for the Prime Minister’s on-line news channel. The narrative, as currently presented, attempts to minimize the role of the Government and its respective agencies and private partners. It also creates new and exaggerated narratives for the exclusive benefit of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society and its own partners."

The April 30th, 2015 letter from Jim Balsillie to environment minister Leona (not "Leon") Aglukkaq outlining concerns over the CBC documentary on "Franklin's Lost Ships." The complete letter is available online at http://aptn.ca/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/07/Arctic-Research-Foundation.pdf.

Why would what is essentially a scientific expedition demand so much attention from Ottawa - and what is the connection to space?

That's easy. As outlined in the May 20th, 2015 Bloomberg Business article, "How a 19th Century Shipwreck Could Give Canada Control of the Arctic," the military, civilian and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) tools requisitioned to find Franklin's ships could also be re-purposed to stand guard over Canada's northern borders and bolster Canada's claim to the arctic.

Enter RADARSAT-2.

Although not mentioned explicitly as one of the resources used for the latest search by the mass media, an undated posting on the University of Waterloo website under the title "Alumnus Proves Missing Piece in Franklin Discovery" leaves little doubt that at least one expert in deciphering RADARSAT-2 Earth observation data was involved in the find.

The posting credits "a handful of dedicated sleuths, including Geography grad Tom Zagon," as being the ones who "finally put the puzzle together in a multidisciplinary effort that speaks to the power of combining satellite imagery, ice climatology and historical records."

RADARSAT data expert Tom Zagan. Photo c/o University of Waterloo.

Of course, many of the specific capabilities of the RADARSAT-2 ground penetrating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are military secrets.

Examples of RADARSAT 2 literature available from the CSA and prime contractor MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) suggest (but don't explicitly state) that the data derived from the satellite is useful for mapping the ocean floor (which means that it could see through salt water at certain frequencies) and able to differentiate between rocks, man made objects (like ships) and ice.

Other documents, such as chapter 10 of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Synthetic Aperture Radar Marine User's Manual state that under favorable conditions, SAR has the ability to detect sea floor topographic features in shallow water areas.

Chuck Black.
But while there are likely a great many good reasons to publicize the discovery of the Erebus from a political and historical perspective, there may also be sound military reasons to confuse and obfuscate the specific techniques used to make those discoveries and to control at the political level any release of information on the find.

So don't expect anything substantial to come out over the next little while. Endangering national security puts a whole new spin on the situation.
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Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, July 06, 2015

And the Beat Goes On...

          By Brian Orlotti

On Sunday June 28th, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a resupply mission (dubbed CRS-7) to the International Space Station (ISS) broke apart two minutes after liftoff. Reactions to the failure have varied, but SpaceX's partners remain confident in the company's ability to recover and press on.

Stephanie Schierholz from the NASA office of communications hosts a post-launch briefing on the status of the SpaceX CRS-7 resupply mission on June 28th. The briefing included statements from SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell, NASA associate administrator William H. (Bill) Gerstenmaier, NASA ISS manager Michael Suffredini and Pam Underwood, the FAA's deputy division manager in the office of commercial space transportation. The participants each gave quick statements and then responded to questions from the reporters in attendance. Screen shot and video c/o NASA.

The failure of CRS-7 will have a negligible impact on ISS operations. A Russian Progress spacecraft launched on July 3rd and docked with the ISS on July 5th, delivering 2,381 kgs of supplies including food, water, oxygen, fuel and scientific equipment.

In addition, a Japanese HTV-1 cargo spacecraft will visit the space station in August. According to NASA, the international docking adapter (meant to provide a standardized docking interface for commercial spacecraft) that was destroyed has a backup that will be sent up on a future flight. NASA has also stated that a December-scheduled ISS resupply flight to be flown on an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft may be moved up.

After the CRS-7 launch failure, NASA issued this statement:
We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight. The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles. We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system. 
SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback. Today's launch attempt will not deter us from our ambitious human spaceflight program.
Although SpaceX has received no immediate criticism from NASA or its other clients, the failure of the CRS-7 mission comes at an important time for the company. In May, SpaceX was certified by the US Air Force to launch military satellites, breaking a monopoly held by United Launch Alliance. Whether the US Air Force's confidence in SpaceX has been affected by the CRS-7 failure remains a question mark. 


Despite their setback, SpaceX's launch manifest remains full and support for the company remains high, as shown in a statement by Space Frontier Foundation chairman Jeff Feige:
Today, our thoughts go out to the hard working team at SpaceX. It’s important to see this event as yet another learning experience for the commercial space industry that will only increase the probability of SpaceX’s success with the Falcon 9 in the future. Space is hard, incredibly hard, just as aviation and ocean voyages were in their infancies, but with the unwavering determination of companies like SpaceX and the NewSpace community, I have no doubt we will overcome the inevitable setbacks only to return stronger and even more determined.
Brian Orlotti.
The coming months will prove if SpaceX can keep the faith.
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Brian Orlotti is a network operations centre analyst at Shomi, a Canadian provider of on-demand internet streaming media and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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