‘Old Space’ ‘New Space’ Collaborate on Canadian Space 2.0 Round Table

In what is a sign of the changing times, a collaboration between Old Space and New Space, an effort begun less than a year ago resulted in the first joint event, the Space 2.0 Round Table, between the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), Old Space, and the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA), New Space.

The Space 2.0 Round Table was held on Friday, February 24 at the headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The event was a CSA idea and they acted as hosts, but it was organized jointly by the AIAC and the CSCA.

Iain Christie, Executive Vice President of the AIAC was the day’s moderator, while Michelle Mendes, CEO of the CSCA, led the effort to drive attendance, particular that of New Space entrepreneurs.

The event is meant to be the first in an ongoing Round Table discussion of various issues facing the space community.

Each Round Table event is meant to discuss a particular issue and include representatives from government and industry.

There were about 50 people in attendance including government representatives from the CSA, Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), the National Research Council (NRC)  and other departments.

Some of the industry players who were there from Old Space included MDA, ABB Canada, and Airbus Defence & Space Canada.

The majority of the industry audience were New Space companies and included the likes of GHGSat, UrtheCast, Aflare Systems, Kepler Communications, Planet and others.

Iain Christie told SpaceQ “we are very pleased with the discussions that took place at the Space 2.0 event last week. Maintaining a consistent dialogue and exchange of ideas between industry and government is essential for creating an environment in which Canadian space companies can thrive, adapt and compete in a quickly evolving marketplace – something that will ultimately advance Canada’s innovative capacity and create more high-quality jobs for Canadians. The Space 2.0 event laid a positive foundation for collaboration between industry and government and we are looking forward to building on these discussions in the future.”

One item of discussion that stakeholders discussed, and which some shared their thoughts with SpaceQ, was that of the current regulatory environment. In particular, getting timely approval for new ground station licenses in Canada is an issue a couple of stakeholders brought up.

Mike Safyan, Director of Launch & Regulatory Affairs, Planet told SpaceQ “I was heartened to see GAC, ISED, CSA, and many other stakeholders from the Canadian space industry all sitting in the same room genuinely trying to understand what ‘Space 2.0’ has to offer, which Canadian regulatory/policy issues are inhibiting its growth, and how industry and government can work together to bolster this burgeoning industry for the general benefit of Canada.”

A ground station in Inuvik under construction in October 2016
A ground station in Inuvik under construction in October 2016. Credit: New North.

Other New Space players including Kepler Communications had other regulatory issues on their mind, but didn’t go into specifics with SpaceQ.

Mina Mitry, Kepler CEO said “Space 2.0 was a very fruitful discussion where we saw all the key stakeholders in one room working together for the collective good of the space industry. I think there will be a number of positive outcomes that result from meeting including revised regulations to support the new challenges of the space industry. We hope a continuation of these meetings will allow Canada to become a thought leader in the space community.”

Roman Ronge, President of Aflare Systems told SpaceQ that “the Space 2.0 round table meeting was a really good start or kickoff of all the necessary activities that must follow to enable and improve the environment for the entrepreneurial space in Canada, from regulatory requirements, compliance and efficient permits processing, financial support to IP protection.  There will be follow on discussions and work done, likely through perhaps another working group between AIAC/CSCA+CSA in addition to the existing ones, possible larger discussion during other events such as the SmallSat or AIAC summit in the fall.”

This particular Round Table included a lot of regulatory discussion as evidenced by the participants responses to SpaceQ.

The one frustration one stakeholder expressed to SpaceQ was that while the government understood that some regulations and policies are outdated, that no commitments were made to deal with the issues in a reasonable time frame.

The CSCA, which turns 10 later this year, was founded with the goal of supporting entrepreneurs and it appears that in the last year the organization has been making good progress in supporting New Space companies.

Michelle Mendes said “the initial Space 2.0 forum was a remarkable success. Key stakeholders from vital industry sectors, discussed how to develop a thriving commercial environment for new space in Canada. The meeting was a testament to how industry and government can cooperate to grow the space sector while achieving Innovation Agenda objectives. This is the beginning of an open exchange of ideas and all parties look forward to an inclusive exchange of ideas to further Canada’s growth in space.”

The CSA made this event a priority and it seems it is recognizing the changing landscape in the space community. Industry representatives have told SpaceQ that the CSA as representatives for the government must work in concert with the community to convince the government of the new realities of the space sector and that this will hopefully get them moving at a faster pace.

Julie Desjardins, Communications Advisor for the CSA told SpaceQ that “the CSA was pleased to host a first Space 2.0 roundtable organized by the AIAC and the CSCA.  The roundtable was an opportunity to discuss this important emerging topic with key industry stakeholders involved in commercial space.  This was a first exchange of views on the opportunities and challenges posed by Space 2.0 and we hope to continue the discussion in the future.”

These Round Table events, should they become a more regular event, could be useful to help grow a business sector that appears poised for growth.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceRef Canada Interactive Inc, CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef U.S., advisor and co-founder of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, and director and co-founder of MaxQ Accelerator Inc. Previously he was the founder of Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine which he sold.