Monday, September 10, 2018

Canada US Cooperation in Space VS The US Questioning of Old Ideas Intended to Combat "Soviet" Expansionism

          By Chuck Black

When multiple mid-level bureaucrats from two separate countries come together in an open, public forum to explain that the existing method they use to interact has been very successful in the past and shouldn't be changed, then you just know that others further up the food chain have been thinking differently.

Such was the case when Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the US National Space Council (NSC), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, current Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Sylvain Laporte and past CSA president William "Mac" Evans, got together in Washington DC with several dozen other space experts on September 7th, 2018 as part of a public presentation from the Washington DC based Canada Institute titled "Over the Horizon: A New Era for Canada-US Space Cooperation?"

The initial two hour set of presentations is available on YouTube, for those who'd like to access the primary source material. Links are included in the image above.

But for those who are in a hurry, as outlined in the September 9th, 2018 Space News post, "US-Canada space relations not affected by trade dispute," both US and Canadian participants "praised the long history of cooperation between the two countries in space activities and expected it to continue."

Not that there is anything wrong with that. According to Laporte, "we have always found a way to cooperate."

Meanwhile, and according to the post:
...just a few blocks away at the offices of the United States Trade Representative, American and Canadian negotiators were discussing issues related to changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Those came after months of trade disputes between the countries.
Perhaps the real problem is that Canada doesn't yet realize that the game is changing when it comes to trade and cooperation with the US.

As outlined in the post:
Asked by one of the event’s moderators if space was “immune” to those trade tensions, Pace said he didn’t have the authority to address trade issues specifically. However, he argued that the growth of free trade between the two countries had its roots in security and defense cooperation during the Cold War. 
“I think we’re looking at, certainly, a period of adjustment as globalization poses new challenges,” he said. “I think that space is rather special. I would never take anything off the table for other trade discussions, but I think that the importance of space, our mutual interests there, is right now undisturbed.”
As for whether those mutual interests will remain undisturbed tommorrow, that's not a question the space agency leaders from either country were really able to answer.

The reality of the situation is a different kettle of fish entirely.

At this point, our current CSA president would be well served by generating a few independent projects which don't require the active participation of someone else's space agency in order to move forward. That would certainly provide some Canadian leverage in any future cooperative talks between the CSA, NASA and their respective national governments.

But the CSA is probably not going to go down this path, if only because it doesn't have the support of its political masters in the Federal Liberal government.

That's a shame. We had a good space program once.

It would be nice if we could have one again. 
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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