Western University Launches Institute for Earth and Space Exploration With Aim to be a Global Leader in Space Research and Training

Cutting the cake at the launch of Western University's new Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. From left to right; Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan, Dr. Ken McIssac, Dr. Jan Cami, Dr. Gordon Osinski and Western president Alan Shepard. Credit: SpaceQ.

For Western University, and in particular Dr. Gordon Osinski, years of hard work have led to the creation of only the second Research Institute level organization at the university, the new Institute for Earth and Space Exploration.

Dr. Gordon Osinski is the first Director of the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration which already has a nickname, Western Space.

And while Dr. Osinski will lead the Institute and moderated the official launching ceremony, he is the first to say that it was a team effort, where many people from several faculties worked together to make the new Institute happen.

About 120 people attended the launch ceremony for the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration.
About 120 people attended the launch ceremony for the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. Credit: SpaceQ.

In particular, Dr. Osinski gave credit to the three Associate Director’s he’s been working with, Dr. Jan Cami, Dr. Ken McIssac and Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan.

The Institute now has 61 researchers from 8 faculties and 19 departments.

Western Space actually became an official Institute on July 1 after the Board of Governors gave its approval at their June 27 meeting.

At that meeting and according to the minutes of the meeting, it was Dr. J. Capone, Vice-President (Research) who “discussed the positive impact that the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration would have on the campus community, noting to members the various partnerships that the institute would bring to the University’s campus. The Vice-President (Research) provided members with details relating to funding, research priorities and core faculty partnerships that could develop from the establishment of the Institute.” The members then voted to approve the creation of the institute.

According to the application support document, the Institute will work toward the following long-term objectives:

  • Launch Western into Space: We will propose, develop, and fly Western-led space missions through a scaled program of high-altitude balloon flights, instrument development, and small satellite (Cubesat) projects.
  • Bring Space Down to Earth: We will develop technologies and techniques to explore remote, difficult to reach, and/or dangerous locations on Earth (e.g., the high Arctic, deep mines, inside nuclear reactors, etc.) based on engineering solutions developed for Space research.

The supporting document concludes “once established, the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration will position Western and Canada as an international hub for Earth and Space exploration research, development and training.”

Dr. Gordon Osinski reveals a Western University patch that Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques brought to the International Space Station on his mission.
Dr. Gordon Osinski reveals a Western University patch that Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques brought to the International Space Station on his mission. Credit: SpaceQ.

Alan Shepard, the new president of Western University was on hand to present the opening remarks. He told SpaceQ “what thrills me about this new Institute is its capacity to bring people together in a multidisciplinary way, for me that’s the future of research.”

And building a multidisciplinary program was a theme we heard a lot today, including from former Canadian astronaut Dave Williams who was also on had for the launch and will serve on the Advisory Council.

Another astronaut, David Saint-Jacques, sent a video where he congratulated and lauded Western for the work its been doing, including training astronauts in the field.

Dr. Osinski had a small surprise for the crowd, it turns out Saint-Jacques took a Western University patch with him on his mission and took a picture of it in the cupola of the International Space Station. That patch and picture are now framed and back at Western where it will eventually be displayed publicly.

I interviewed Dr. Osinski after the ceremony had concluded. You can listen to the interview on this Thursday’s SpaceQ podcast.

About Marc Boucher

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 Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 27 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.