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This Week in Space for Canada

The Space Security Index (SSI) releases its seventh annual report just in time for the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) teleconference on space debris and traffic management. Meanwhile, completed Canadian components of the James Webb Space Telescope begin showing up at Goddard Space Flight Center for final testing and MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) Chief Executive Daniel Friedmann states that his company “hasn’t always gotten a lot of love from its home government.” All that and more, this week in space for Canada.


Our first story comes to us out of Waterloo, Ontario where SSI just released their Space Security 2010 update. According to the September 10th press release issued by Ray Williamson, Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation and Cesar Jaramillo, SSI Project Manager of Project Ploughshare (who also served as editor of the publication):

“A newly issued study provides a comprehensive source of data and analysis on space activities and their cumulative impact on the security of outer space. Space Security 2010 is an appraisal released by the Space Security Index, an international research consortium that aims to improve transparency with respect to space activities and to support the development of national and international policies that contribute to space security.”

SSI project partners include the Secure World Foundation, The Simons Foundation, Project Ploughshares, the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Financial support for 2010 was provided through The Simons Foundation, the International Security Research and Outreach Program at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and the Erin J.C Arsenault Trust Fund at McGill University.
This years document focuses on the increasing deployment of military space systems, Iran’s successful launch of its first domestically made satellite and the collision between a commercial Iridium satellite and a defunct Russian spacecraft in February 2009 which underscored the need for greater coordination between space system operators to prevent future collisions.
Preventing future space collisions and developing the legal infrastructure to support space activities is also one of the focuses of the COMSTAC teleconference on space debris and traffic management scheduled for September 17th according to Berin Szoka, who was interviewed for the September 10th edition of the Space Show, with Dr. David Livingston.
According to Szoka, topics up for comment during the call include rewards for the removal of space debris and the need to develop international space salvage laws comparable to those governing activities on terrestrial oceans. Public and commercial participation are encouraged by COMSTAC, which collects information, advice, and recommendations for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
But for those of us who perform space focused activities under the laws as they presently exist, it’s good to know that Canada has experts and successes to celebrate here as well and they include the recent delivery of components for the James Webb Space Telescope, successor of the Hubble Space Telescope, to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
The components, built by Cambridge based Com Dev International include the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and the Tunable Filter Imager (TFI) according to the the September 8th, 2010 Canadian Space Agency press release “Guiding Light: The Canadian Space Agency “Eyes” Hubble’s Successor.”
Com Dev has had a string of bad luck lately including the recent removal of CEO John Keating and most of these problems relate to managing government satellite programs so it’s got to be good news for the firm that at least one of its satellite contracts is moving forward.
It’s also useful to contrast Com Dev with the luck lately enjoyed by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA). According to the article “Canada’s MacDonald Dettwiler Wins Hearts And Minds At Home” published on the Automated Trader website, this luck is hard won and depends on support from the Canadian government. According to the article:
“MDA contemplated selling the military surveillance part of its business a couple of years ago because the Canadian government wasn’t buying its services….
(But) once MDA started talking about selling its systems business, which includes military surveillance services, the government took notice. It not only blocked the sale, now the Canadian military uses MDA’s unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to help detect roadside bombs in Afghanistan. “

The article also quotes MDA Chief Executive Daniel Friedmann as stating that “I can’t run around the world telling everybody I’m a good company if Canada doesn’t buy it” and he’s likely right which might be something for both Com Dev executives and Canadian politicians to take note of.
That’s all for this week in space for Canada.

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Staff Writer