European Space Agency (ESA) member countries (including Canada) band together in Brussels to plot strategy while commercial newspace movers and shakers descend upon New Mexico to book billets on Space Ship 2. Canadian space entrepreneur Bob Richards forms a new team to (evidently) compete against his old team for the Google Lunar X Prize and Telesat takes the chance of including an x-band payload in its forthcoming Anik G1 satellite and is handsomely rewarded.
All that and more, this week in space for Canada.
Our first story this week comes via the October 19th, 2010 ESA Portal article titled “Building Europe’s vision for space exploration” which states “Ministers from the 29 ESA and EU states will rendezvous in Brussels this week for their second International Conference on Space Exploration as the next step towards creating a future European exploration strategy.”
According to the October 12th, 2010 article on the Softpedia website under the title “Conference to Discuss the Future of Europe’s Space Plans:”
“Some of the most interesting topics proposed for the discussions include establishing a governance for the European space infrastructures, developing industrial policies, and identifying the stakes of space expansion. Additionally, experts will also discuss the role that space infrastructure has in the service of planetary management, crisis management, security, defense, and the society as a whole.”
Canada is expected to participate in the forum as part of it’s responsibilities as a ESA “associate” member, but with all due respect to the ESA, it’s expected that more useful activities will happen at the three-day International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) which starts today and runs until Friday, October 22nd in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
According to the ISPCS website, more than 400 commercial spaceflight industry leaders have already registered for the event to mingle with speakers including XCOR Aerospace CEO Jeff Greason, Ken Davidian from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Executive Director of the Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIAA) Bob Dickman, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Arianespace President Clay Mowry and quite a few others.
Most of these people don’t need to develop no “stinkin policies!” They know where they’re going.
They come from the core of the commercial newspace movement, a table at which Canada hasn’t had a real representative since before the DaVinci Project and the Canadian Arrow rocket team last issued press releases on their (ultimately futile) efforts to win the first Ansari X-prize back in 2004.
I assume everyone knows how that contest turned out. Burt Rutan won with Space Ship 1, then teamed up with Richard Branson to build the suborbital Space Ship 2, which just finished up its first piloted free flight from it’s White Knight 2 carrier craft. This craft is expected to jump start the suborbital commercial launch industry over the next two years, plus make a little bit of money on the side for Rutan, Branson and quite a few others.
From our 2010 vantage-point, it’s hard to remember that multiple Canadians were once considered top experts in the newspace movement, but that was then and this is now.
Today, our only credible Canadian newspace advocate is Robert Richards, who lists himself as ‘space entrepreneur, orphan of Apollo, a founder of the International Space University and the Singularity University plus CEO of the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competitor Odyssey Moon according to his personal website at www.robertdrichards.com.
However, according to the October 19th, 2010 Parabolic Arc article titled “Bob Richard Forms New Team to Compete in Google Lunar X Prize,” this entrepreneur has a new gig.
Richards even acknowledges as much on the October 19th, 2010 post for his blog (http://robertdrichards.blogspot.com/) which states:
“Moon Express (MoonEx) is one of six U.S. companies selected by NASA for its $30M Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data (ILDD) program. MoonEx is also revealed as an Official Team in the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition on the GLXP website today and I’ve noted on some blogs and tweets that some watching closely have already noticed that I am listed as the MoonEx team leader. I am very excited about MoonEx and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. We’ll be revealing ourselves in a press conference to be announced in the near future…”
I wish Richards luck with his latest venture but would like to know a little bit more, especially about what happened at Odyssey Moon. This once unstoppable (and first registered) competitor for the GLXP (with CEO Richards at the helm) was originally sponsored by several Canadian companies but is now no longer considered to be even a top five contender, according to the article “Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Scorecard” on the Evadot website. As well, Richards is no longer listed in any capacity on the Odyssey Moon website.
Which brings us to our last story on a Canadian company which also seems to have tried something different and in this case, they benefited handsomely.
According to the October 19th, 2010 Satellite PR article “Telesat satellite comms for Anik G1 sold to single customer” Canadian satellite fleet operator Telesat, “which decided earlier this year to place an X-band payload on its next satellite without a guaranteed customer,” has sold the X-band capacity to Paradigm Services of Europe for the satellite’s full 15-year service life.
The Anik G1 satellite was designed to carry 16 high-power Ku-band transponders in the extended FSS band to support Canadian cable company Shaw Direct with its growing DTH video programming plus 12 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders to assist and replace the ones built into Telesat’s Anik F1 satellite now serving South America according to the June 1st, 2010 Spaceref.com article “Space Systems/Loral Selected to Provide Anik G1 Satellite to Telesat.”
But the satellite also contained three X-band channels for government services over the Americas and parts of the Pacific Ocean. These were the channels that Telesat sold to Paradigm Services. It’s considered unusual in the industry to provide excess capacity in a satellite without a committed paying customer because of the up front costs.
The satellite will operate in “geostationary” orbit, hovering in approximately the same spot over the Earth’s surface, when it launches in 2012.
That’s all for this week in space for Canada.