On November 21st to 23rd, 130 professionals, government officials and academics attended the 8th annual Canadian Space Summit presented by the Canadian Space Society and held at McGill University. This year’s Summit theme addressed a pertinent question on the minds of many in the industry, â€œWhat’s next for the Canadian space industry?â€ With topics ranging from astronomy to Earth orbit operations to the need for a comprehensive national space policy in Canada, there was no lack of discussion to address this ultimate question.
“I am ecstatic over the results of the weekend”, says Kevin Shortt, President of the Canadian Space Society. “Many new technologies and research were showcased and critical strategies for further developing the space industry in Canada were identified.”
Many attendees were particularly attracted to a discussion on developing a Canadian launch capability that could potentially drive down costs of launching Canadian technology into orbit. This controversial subject has been addressed by many Canadians since the 1960s and is again beginning to gain traction. During his keynote speech at the Space Summit banquet, Marc Garneau expressed his opinion about such a capability saying that “it would not be a wise investment for Canadians.” There are those in the industry, however, that would disagree.
The fact that Canadian satellite launches are not under Canadian control “severely limits the number, timing and type of orbital missions that Canada can undertake” says Arny Sokoloff, president of Continuum Aerospace and the speaker that presented on the subject at the Space Summit. “Furthermore, current technology makes the attainment of such capability more affordable and well within the scope and budgets of previous Canadian technology projects.”
Another topic that received much attention was the current lack of a national space policy in Canada. “The lack of a national space policy creates a vacuum which makes it difficult for industry to create or invest in their own strategic plan” says Anthony Salloum, Director of the Rideau Institute and Law and Policy Session Chair for the 2008 Space Summit. As the Canadian Space Agency moves forward in the development of its long-term space plan, due to be released some time next year, it will be imperative for such a policy to be in place.
“We accomplished what we set out to do: create an atmosphere which facilitated open discussion between industry, academia, government, and private space ventures” says Marianne Mader, member of the local organizing committee for the 2008 Space Summit.
The Canadian Space Society will be compiling these results into a formal report that will be released in the coming weeks. “Given the current state of flux the industry is in, we feel that it is important to capture as broad a perspective as possible,” says Shortt, “and the Space Summit is exactly the forum in which to look for that perspective.”
The Canadian Space Summit is an annual event hosted by the Canadian Space Society, a national nonprofit organization explicitly dedicated to helping the Canadian space industry, academia, and special interest groups develop a wider understanding of the diverse space exploration and development projects that are being conducted across the country. The 2009 Canadian Space Summit will be held in Kingston, Ontario from November 20th to 22nd.