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CSCA National Conference 2014 – New Manufacturing for NewSpace

CSCA Annual National Conference

The Canadian Space Commerce Association’s Annual National Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in Toronto today. The theme of the conference was “New Manufacturing for NewSpace”.

Why Have a Business Association For Space?

Arny Sokoloff, the President of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, kicked off the conference by explaining what the CSCA does.

Arny Sokoloff - CSCA President

Arny Sokoloff – CSCA President introduces the topic

It’s a national group composed of both individuals and companies. It main focus area is at the intersection of the space sector and business activities. It’s the only group in Canada whose sole mandate is promotion of Canadian space business.

Why have a CSCA?

Internal activities: Education, information and networking for our members, and act as a forum to exchange expertise between members.

Externally: act as the public face for Canadian space business, and provide ongoing press and government relations. The CSCA may have contributed more pages and recommendations to the recent Emerson Aerospace Review report than any other group.

In the past year they have held regular meetings in Toronto, ran the Canadian Space Summit 2013 commercial track (I have posted on the summit herehere, and here).

They acted as a supporting organization for the International Space Commerce Summit in London.

Finally, they have been selected as the host of the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) 2014 in Toronto.

Today’s topic

Why did the organizers pick it?

In short, they believe that recent manufacturing advances will change the space sector as much or more than any other industry.

Arny cited examples such as new fabrics (Thin Red Line’s inflatable space habitation modules), AutoCAD designs, additive manufacturing techniques (popularized as 3d printing) and says these manufacturing advances ensure low volume production is more economical, help speed up prototype to production timelines, and will eventually result in manufactured components and parts destined for space that are actually made in space.

Verdict

Here’s my verdict on the conference:

It was a long journey here from Ottawa this morning but I am very glad I attended.

I found something similar to my experience with the CSS Summit last year: the space sector is a very niche market but actually touches on a vast array of industries and has transformative potential for the whole world.

Because the space sector touches on so many different types of industry, I find that space summits are fascinating affairs, with alternating viewpoints from extremely detailed, scientific discussions, to discussions of IP law and patent protection, advice on how to become an astronaut, presentations on what laser printing and scanning is, history lessons on XPrize competition from the insiders….in short a space conference is a whirlwind of knowledge transfer of the kind you can’t find in books or online.

Although the space sector is arguably 70 years old by now (or more depending on when you date its beginnings), I really feel like we will one day look back and understand this period was the birth of something new and amazing. I remember that feeling from the early dotcom days with high tech, where it felt like all the pieces of a commercial revolution were suddenly falling into place.

There is a lot more to say on the findings of this conference. In the meantime my thanks to the CSCA staff and volunteers for putting on a great conference and I look forward to following up with the people I met and the knowledge I gained.

Rough notes to follow shortly.

Hacer realidad el espacio: el viaje a Marte

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