Monday, August 15, 2016

The Canadian Space Agency Gave Out Almost $30Mln CDN Last Quarter!

          By Chuck Black

The fourth quarter (typically from January 1st - March 31st) of government procurement has traditionally been the period when the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) gives out the lions share of its grants and contributions to academia and industry. 

The CSA proactive disclosure of grants and contributions awards webpage, which provides a pretty good overview of CSA grants and contributions of over $25K CDN to academia and industry. Federal government departments have been providing this sort of disclosure (with greater or lesser degrees of success) since 2005. Screenshot c/o CSA.

This year was no exception as the CSA first quarter totals (five, as listed on the 2015-16 CSA Disclosure of grants and contributions awards page), second quarter totals (two) and third quarter totals (two) were dwarfed by the 38 grants awarded in the fourth quarter of the 2015 - 2016 CSA budget.

The Q4 awards and grants included:
  • A project called "Astrobiology Training in Lava Tubes (ATILT)" which will provide realistic science training in terrestrial lava tube caves considered high fidelity analogs of Mars lava tubes ($200K CDN). 

The Mars Science Laboratory. Several of the Q4 2016 CSA grants were made to fund continued access to the rover. Graphic c/o

  • The Aniu Experiment, intended to validate and calibrate two cameras for use in detecting frosts in permanently shadowed regions near the Lunar south pole ($200K CDN). 
  • Funding for its Volcanic analogue mission for planetary exploration (VAMPE) proposal to use volcanic terrains on Earth as analogue sites for the testing of new techniques for the future human and robotic exploration of the solar system ($200K CDN). 
Several universities were awarded funding for single studies. These included: 

Raman spectra are shown for the amino acids glutamine (G), alanine (A), proline (P), and cysteine (C)—important biomarkers that could indicate the presence of life beyond Earth. Graphic c/o University of South Carolina.

The NovaSAR synthetic aperture radar satellite (above) was a key reason why Vancouver, BC based Urthecast selected UK based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to work on its proposed 16 satellite constellation, at least according to the June 19th, 2015 Space News article, "UrtheCast Plans Constellation of Optical And Radar Satellites." UrtheCast has received a $2Mln CDN CSA grant to work on a dual frequency, fully polarimetric, digitally beam formed, multichannel SAR receiver exciter, which would be the core element of UrtheCast's proposed constellation. Graphic c/o SSTL.

Several private corporations were also provided grants.

These included ABB Inc. Canada (two grants totaling just over $1Mln CDN), ARTsensing Inc. (one grant of $523K CDN), Honeywell International (listed under its pre-acquisition name of COM DEV Ltd., which received four grants totaling over $4Mln CDN), MPB Communications (one grant of $265K CDN), SED Systems (one grant of $855K CDN) and UrtheCast Corporation (one grant of $2Mln CDN).

Oddly enough, the largest single grant for Q4 was $10.5Mln CDN which covered the annual assessed contribution to the European Space Agency's (ESA) General Budget under the Canada/ESA Cooperation Agreement, for 2016.

Chuck Black.
Which makes sense, given our current government focus on making components for other people's space programs.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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