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Canada Lagging Behind G8 In Space Capabilities

Canada's RADARSAT Constellation Mission
by Staff Writers
Ottawa, Canada (SPX) Jun 06, 2008
The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Rideau Institute have released a report that outlines the key investments for Canada to rebuild its lagging space capabilities. "This report outlines investment opportunities that could yield significant economic return to Canada, and ensure the sustainability of our high tech space sector," said Carol Phillips, assistant to CAW national president.

"We have tremendously talented workers in this country who are producing state-of-the-art space technology. We need to ensure those jobs stay in Canada."

"Flying High: A Plan to Rebuild Canada's Space Capabilities is a well-researched document that provides the federal government with strategic space investment opportunities so that Canada could finally catch up with its G8 partners in five years' time," said the Rideau Institute's Steven Staples.

Written by David Macdonald for the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Rideau Institute Flying High: A Plan to Rebuild Canada's Space Capabilities' main findings are as follows:

1. The Canadian space sector requires $1.53 billion in new funding over 5 years to rebuild Canada's space capabilities.

2. Canada's funding of its space sector is the second lowest amongst G8 countries as a percentage of GDP, and is less than half of the G8 average.

3. The Canadian Space Agency budget has remained virtually unchanged since 2001, at approximately $300 million per year, while shortfalls and delays have resulted in "phantom" budget growth and risk eroding existing programs.

4. The Canadian Space Agency needs leadership after having three presidents in only three years.

According to the report, the prevention of the sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to Minnesota-based arms manufacturer Alliant Techsystems (ATK) was a critical step in the preservation of the Canadian space industry. To enhance the role of the Canadian Space Agency and ensure stability and future success for the industry and workers involved in the space sector, the federal government needs to establish a coherent national space policy.

This report seeks to provide guidance to the federal government on ensuring that Canada's space sector remains competitive on a global stage. Flying High: A Plan to Rebuild Canada's Space Capabilities noted that there is an urgent need for Canada to take the following actions if we are to create a strong and sustainable space industry in this country:

1. Fund the RADARSAT Constellation Mission: Following the recent success of RADARSAT-2, this is a vital next step to preserve relevant technical expertise in Canada.

2. Bring in a permanent CSA president: After having had three presidents in three years, the Canadian Space Agency needs stability to build its long-term vision.

3. Emphasize Space in the Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy: Defence contract offsets can be directed to the space sector.

4. Negotiate stronger ITAR exemptions for Canadian companies: Canadian companies need exemptions from U.S. export restrictions in order to work more closely with American partners.

5. Create a Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI) space commercialization project: Industry Canada has specialized R and D programs for certain industries, and one of those industries should be space.

6. Develop a National Space Policy: It is critical that the CSA develop a long-term vision of where it wants to go and what projects it wants to be involved in.

7. Commit to cutting-edge missions: There is a wealth of new and exciting projects, including rover robotics, lunar exploration and missions to Mars. The CSA simply needs to define its role and draw on additional resources to be part of this new frontier.

8. Fund the CSA to the G8 Average: The above recommendations are not possible without additional support from the federal government that would put Canada at the 2007 G8 space spending-to-GDP average by

2012. Additional spending of $1.53 billion over five years is vital to maintaining and expanding Canada's space industry.

The CAW represents workers at MDA facilities at Brampton, Ontario and St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec.

The Rideau Institute is an independent research, advocacy, and consulting group based in Ottawa. It is a federally registered non-profit organization, established in January 2007.

Related Links
Report in Detail - PDF File
Rideau Institute
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Space station gets big Japanese lab room
Washington (AFP) June 3, 2008
Astronauts have attached a bus-sized Japanese laboratory to the International Space Station, giving the orbiting outpost its biggest room and providing Japan with a key foothold in space.







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