Space Organizations Respond to Call for Pre-Budget Consultations Like Never Before

File photo: The Standing Committee on Finance pre-budget consultation. Credit: The Standing Committee on Finance (FINA).

The space community is using another opportunity at its disposal like never before in the form of the federal pre-budget consultations, to get its message out of a funded space strategy.

A strong showing

Normally when the federal Finance Committee issues its pre-budget consultations perhaps two, maybe three space organizations respond in a good year.

Not so this year.

11 space organizations and one individual submitted a total of nine briefs. Some of the briefs submitted were done jointly with other organizations. All but one did not submit a brief last year. And of note, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) did not submit a brief this year.

So who submitted a brief of the total 479 briefs the Committee received? (Which is up from 409 last year)

  • The Coalition for Canadian Astronomers (The brief in PDF format) – This is a joint brief by Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and unnamed industry partners. Also notable as the only space organization to submit a brief last year and this year
  • Canadian Space Society (brief)
  • A joint submission from Maritime Launch Services Ltd., Laboratoires Reaction Dynamics Inc., and AT Aerospace (brief)
  • MDA Space Missions Group (brief)
  • Mission Control Space Services (brief)
  • The Planetary Society (brief)
  • Satellite Canada Innovation Network (brief)
  • Space Generation Advisory Council (brief)
  • Former astronaut Robert Thirsk (brief)

There were many other briefs that dealt with science that were submitted by universities and other organizations such as the Canadian Association of Physicists (brief). As well, CMC Microsystems (brief), though not a space company, but which has ties to the space community, will be a witness at Thursday Finance Committee meeting where they will discuss in part, the training of people to design products using advanced manufacturing technologies.

The Committee has just begun to hear from organizations who submitted briefs. It remains to be seen how many of the space organizations will appear as witnesses, but at least one, MDA, did make a request. Appearing as witness is an important step in the pre-budget consultations as it allows organizations to talk directly to parliamentarians. SpaceQ will post a link to live Finance Committee meetings should any include space organizations.

So what were the recommendations?

Recommendations submitted included policy options and funding suggestions. Several talked about the promised Space Strategy the government has yet to deliver and which was to have been announced last summer. Naturally, many spoke to their strengths and advocated for funding in those areas. Many though advocated for restoring the Canadian Space Agency budget to levels that would allow Canada to compete at the same level or above other countries who are aggressively pursuing space technologies and activities as part of their national economic plans.

Here are the recommendations by organization;

The Coalition for Canadian Astronomers

  • Recommendation 1: Create an official entity for funding applications for big science projects.
  • Recommendation 2: Provide the above with sufficient funding for Canadian researchers to take advantage of international collaboration opportunities on big science projects.
  • Recommendation 3: Establish a new vision for the Canadian Space Agency that includes space science, with annual funding of $100 million to support competitions for small, medium and large space missions.

Canadian Space Society

  • Recommendation 1: That the government provides the Canadian Space Agency with more funding to allow increased participation in ISS missions, recruit more astronauts, establish new research and operation centres and develop future projects of different scopes.
  • Recommendation 2: That the budget allows the CSA and partners to develop preliminary proposals for space-based green energy production and mining projects.
  • Recommendation 3: Indicate support for private space companies in Canada, procure services from the industry and encourage entrepreneurship.
  • Recommendation 4: Create and support comprehensive outreach programs to educate the public on the importance of space exploration.
  • Recommendation 5: That the government works closely with the experts in the field such as the Space Advisory Board, to adopt new space-related policies and strategies promptly.

The joint submission from Maritime Launch Services Ltd., Laboratoires Reaction Dynamics Inc., and AT Aerospace

  • Recommendation 1:​ That the Government of Canada add “Launch vehicle technology and technology for launch sites” as admissible research categories for NSERC grants providing funding for aerospace or space research and development.
  • Recommendation 2:​ That the Government of Canada invests in and incentivizes new business practices through partnerships with Canadian companies, not-for-profits and charities, such that the youth may be equipped with STEM skills relevant to the launch industry and the overall space industry.

MDA Space Missions Group

  • Recommendation 1: That, consistent with the report of the Space Advisory Board, the government recognize space as a national strategic asset and a key contributor to Canada’s competitiveness today and in the new space economy.
  • Recommendation 2: That the government develop a long-term space plan for Canada that establishes the requisite funding to maintain our existing world leadership in satellite communications, robotics, Earth observation and space science; cultivate new areas of leadership; and position Canada to be competitive in the new space economy.
  • Recommendation 3: That, as an important first pillar of Canada’s long-term space plan, the government announce a commitment in Budget 2019 (at the latest – time is running out) to provide a third generation Canadarm to the international space community’s next big exploration mission, the Gateway project.
  • Recommendation 4: That the government provide $1-2B over the next 20 years, starting in Budget 2019, to fund a third generation Canadarm, securing Canada’s existing world leadership in space robotics and positioning this country for competitiveness in the new space economy.

Mission Control Space Services

  • Recommendation 1: That the government increase the A-base budget for the Canadian Space Agency to above the OECD average.
  • Recommendation 2: That the government support additional large-scale space exploration missions such as planetary rovers.
  • Recommendation 3: That the government take an active international role in developing policy to facilitate sustainable exploration.

The Planetary Society

  • Recommendation 1: That the government properly investment in Canada’s space program by restoring the A-base budget of the Canadian Space Agency to at least $300M.
  • Recommendation 2: That the government work with ISED to implement a consensus national space strategy that positions the nation to compete in the growing space market.

Satellite Canada Innovation Network

  • Recommendation 1: That the Government of Canada restore the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to its original purpose and mandate: “To promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians.” The space sector has matured beyond this scope, to the point that commercial interests are able to directly meet the needs of government and industry. CSA would focus predominantly on space exploration, space science, astronauts, international collaborations, and inspiring Canadians.
  • Recommendation 2: That, in light of Recommendation 1, in line with the “Strong, Secure, Engaged” policy for the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defense, and in order to most efficiently deploy Canadian resources and investment, the Government of Canada increase direct funding allocations for satellite products, services, research and development to those agencies that the need for space-based connectivity, capability and infrastructure fall under (e.g. Environment Canada).
  • Recommendation 3: That, to catalyze and protect Canada’s global technological, economic, and social competitiveness, the Government of Canada allocate funding in the amount of 93 Million CAD, delivered over 5 years, perhaps through Stream 4 of the Strategic Innovation Fund, and to be matched or exceeded by stakeholders, for the establishment of a sustainable, industry focused satellite technology and applications network.

Space Generation Advisory Council

  • Recommendation 1:​ That the government urgently secure Canada’s posterity in space and its economic output with a competitive budget allocation to the ​Canadian Space Agency,​ with per capita GDP parity of major spacefaring nations taken into consideration.
  • Recommendation 2:​ That the government urgently acknowledges its institutional and financial commitment to deep space initiatives alongside its international partners.
  • Recommendation 3: ​That the government increase its financial and institutional commitment across the public and private sector to better encapsulate the Canadian space industry to align with the ​UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development​.
  • Recommendation 4: ​That the government amend its ​Innovation and Skills Plan​ to include a funding mechanism to incentivize, sustain and harmonize indigenous capability development programs focused on space science and technology, with a focus on Canadian youth.
  • Recommendation 5:​ That the government expands its focus across the four streams of the ​Strategic Innovation Fund b​ y increasing its call for proposals to include the space sector and to specifically bolster small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Recommendation 6: ​That the government extends the implementation of its ​model policy on scientific integrity​ for the development and urgent release of a long-term ​space strategy.

Former astronaut Robert Thirsk

  • Recommendation 1: That the government implement the six recommendations of the ISED Space Advisory Board’s 2017 report.
  • Recommendation 2: That the government approve the Canadian Space Agency’s new space strategy and restore adequately funding of the Agency as a means to stretch our national capabilities and rally our citizens.

Updated Wednesday, September 26, 9:30 am ET: CMC Microsystems will appear at Thursday’s meeting, not today.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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