[Update – what I called a “plan” is actually a policy framework]
The government of Canada has just announced a new space policy framework for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), in response to the recommendations of the David Emerson Aerospace Review. Industry Minister James Moore announced Canada’s revamped space policy framework in the presence of new Canadian Space Agency president Walter Natynczyk (whose first speech I covered here), as well as Canadian astronauts Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques. The report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is here.
According to the announcement, the Canadian government is committing to continue Canada’s Astronaut Program, and is further committing $17 million of additional funding for the James Webb Space Telescope which when launched in 2018 will replace the aging Hubble Telescope.
Of interest to the NewSpace sector in Canada is that a Canadian space advisory council will be established, to be comprised of “stakeholders in the public and private space domain” and chaired by the CSA president. The plan calls for assisting “the private sector to support space activities…and working with international partners to pool data for mutual benefit and obtain services and technologies that would otherwise be unavailable.”
The practical details of this, and the ramifications of this council for encouraging NewSpace activities in Canada are yet to be determined. Although the NewSpace sector should not become dependent on Government assistance (that entirely defeats the point of the sector) sustained government assistance is definitely required and welcome to incubate space-sector private companies.
I think that Canada has the raw ingredients to be a NewSpace leader. We have demonstrated expertise in mining, robotics, biotech, computers, space technology, telemedicine, and satellite communications. We are a wealthy nation, with stable banking, high scientific literacy and advanced business sectors.
To paraphrase our former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, this could be “Canada’s century” in space.