Canada Releases New Space Policy Framework

Canada Releases New Space Policy Framework

Canada’s Minister of Industry, James Moore, and the President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Gen. (Ret.) Walter Natynczyk, released Canada’s new framework for space policy today.

The policy starts out by saying that “space is increasingly congested, contested and competitive,” a line popularized by the U.S. Government since the beginning of the Obama Administration, but quickly focuses in on Canadian national interests.  The five core principles of the framework are:

  • Canadian Interests First.   “National sovereignty, security and prosperity will be the key drivers of Canada’s activities in space.”
  • Positioning the Private Sector at the Forefront of Space Activities.  The Canadian government will focus on “supporting the domestic space industry” and “utilizing industry where industry has greater capacity, knowledge and skill” or “can be more efficient and cost-effective.”
  • Progress Through Partnerships.  Including international collaboration, while protecting “Canadian technologies and data from theft or from falling into the hands of hostile interests” through “effective export control and regulatory measures.”
  • Excellence in Key Capabilities.  From “telecommunication to remote sensing to robotics” while “keeping a close watch on new niches of technological accomplishment.”
  • Inspiring Canadians.  “Space is a highly visible means of motivating young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.”

The policy goes on to identify four “avenues of strategic action” for its implementation:

  • Commercialization
  • Research and Development
  • Exploration of Space
  • Stewardship, Management and Accountability

The last avenue calls for establishing a Canadian Space Advisory Council chaired by the President of CSA.  “At the same time, the Government will empower a committee chaired by a Deputy Minister to review objectives and expenditures.”

The statement ends by asserting that “It is imperative, then, that Canada remain in the vanguard of space research and application.  This framework provides the policy blueprint for Canada to do so.”

The report states that Canada’s space industry provides 8,000 skilled jobs and contributes $3.33 billion to Canada’s economy annually.

CSA receives about $300 million a year from the Canadian government.  It is probably best known as a partner with the United States on the space shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) programs with its Canadarm and Canadarm2 robotic arms, as well as Dextre, the “hand” that goes with Canadarm2.   A number of Canadian astronauts have flown on the shuttle and ISS, perhaps most famously Chris Hadfield who was the first Canadian ISS commander and captivated global audiences with his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity (“Major Tom”). 

Canada also has an extensive space applications program.  It is a leader in radar remote sensing from space with its Radarsat satellites and was the first country with a geostationary communications satellite, Anik, to serve domestic (rather than international) needs.  (The United States launched Anik and many other Canadian satellites. Canada does not have its own orbital launch site.)

It also has space science programs, some in partnership with the United States or the European Space Agency.  At an event earlier this week at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope, Senator Barbara Mikulski called for a special round of applause for Canada — “one of the most wonderful neighbors you could have in the world.”

From a national security space standpoint, in 1957, Canada and the United States formed what is now called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) that is charged with aerospace warning and aerospace control, including monitoring of man-made objects in space and detection, validation and warning of attack against North America by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.