Monday, May 08, 2017

Steve MacLean's 2010 Long-Term Space Plan Surfaces, CSA Clarifies its Communications Policy & California's Rocket Tax

          By Henry Stewart

For the week of May 8th, 2017, here are a few of the stories we're currently tracking for the Commercial Space blog:

Former CSA president Steve MacLean in 2010 alongside the front cover of his 2010 "Long-Term Space Plan for Canada." Photo c/o Canadian Press and Gordon Group.

  • A never released Long-Term Space Plan (LTSP), created by then Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Steve MacLean as part of his 2008 hiring mandate under then Conservative Industry Minister Jim Prentice, seems to have surfaced in the most peculiar of places. 
An Ottawa, Ontario based marketing and communications company called the Gordon Group, has claimed credit for its design and layout, and even posted portions of the plan on its website. 
Gordon Group website on May 8th, 2017. Screenshot c/o Author.
As outlined on the Gordon Group CSA promotional page, the CSA "has worked with Gordon Group over many years to produce a variety of reports, such as the COSPAR reports for 1998-99, 2004-05 and 2010."
"Most recently, Gordon Group designed, edited, laid out and produced the 72-page report called A Long-term Space Plan for Canada, which was submitted to the Government of Canada by Dr. Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency."
According to the website, the Gordon Group, "designed a cover that shows a satellite view of Canada from space and grid lines that represent tangible evidence of the agency’s strategy and plans for Canada’s involvement in spaceThe blue tones of the cover design reflect the colour of space and tie in with the CSA logo. 
The promotion continues, "the inside design deliberately uses a lot of white space for a clean and crisp look. The angled lines in the keyline are reflected in the photo cropping, giving a subtle forward-looking feel. Pull quotes emphasize content and provide visual interest." 
For a bit of background on the last astronaut to head the CSA and his original mandate, check out the  January 19th, 2013 post, "Praising Steve MacLean." Screenshot c/o Author.  

Given that MacLean's report is currently being used as a sales aid for a marketing company, it seems appropriate for the current Federal government under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to formally release the full seventy-two page document to the public.
As outlined in the April 20th, 2017 post, "Space Advisory Committee Members Announced: Various Stakeholders Release Independent Assessments, Just in Case," there are many in both government and the private sector assessing and collecting much the same data originally collected by MacLean, who could make far better use of MacLean's document than is currently the case.
As outlined in the post, several clauses in standard CSA contracts make it essentially impossible for CSA subcontractors to talk to the public without the formal approval of the CSA Directorate of Communications.
According to CSA senior communications advisor Magalie Renaud, who communicated with this blog via e-mail:
"The intention of this clause is to leverage resources by encouraging coordination of communication efforts between the CSA and contractors (for example: hold a joint announcement, develop a blog about the company promoted on our social media platforms). Our aim is also to encourage the sharing of information so we can support industry partners, especially the smaller firms that don’t have the resources to dedicate to promoting their work. This clause is not meant to prevent companies from communicating with the media or the public.

That being said, the clause was drafted several years ago and we are in the process of reviewing it. It will better reflect the CSA’s intention to encourage coordination and the sharing of information so we can highlight successes and leverage resources."
To be fair, the latest e-mail reflects at least the intention to "leverage resources" along with the acceptance that the current CSA regulations could be improved. Maybe one day, the CSA will figure out that free and open discussion without constraints (ie. "peer review") is the essence of the scientific method.
Just don't hold your breath in anticipation.
  • California wants to tax rocket launches.
As outlined in the May 6th, 2017 Quartz post, "California’s plan to tax rockets by the mile is exactly what space companies want," the California state legislature has come up with a plan to tax rocket companies, based on "how often they fly the 62 miles (100 km) from a California launchpad to the very edge of space while transporting goods or tourists."
As outlined in the article, "the proposal comes as the state’s technology sector ploughs increasing amounts of money into aerospace start-ups, and homegrown company SpaceX asserts itself as the leader in low-cost space access. California is home to highly skilled aerospace engineers and technicians, thanks to the long presence of companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as research centers like Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Lab and NASA’s Ames research center."
The proposed rocket tax will apply mainly to just two companies (SpaceX and ULA), at least initially.  But, as outlined in the article, Virgin Galactic will also be taxed when it ramps up its operations.
All three companies have backed the new tax rule in meetings with the California government, according to government records and sources familiar with the matter, because the change would clarify their tax status.
For more, check out our upcoming stories in the Commercial Space blog or recommend stories for our various aggregation feeds by tweeting #CANSpace.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page