Alouette Pioneers Celebrated at Gala Dinner

Twenty-five engineers and scientists who contributed to the launch of the first Canadian satellite Alouette 1 were honoured at a special Gala Dinner in Ottawa on September 29 on the 50th anniversary of the satellite’s launch.

The Canada On Orbit Gala / Gala Canadien propos de l’orbite was organized by the Canadian Space Society with sponsorship support from the Boeing Company, Macdonald Dettwiler and Associates and Telesat.

The evening was hosted by Bob McDonald of CBC Quirks and Quarks and included videotape messages of welcome and congratulations from Governor General of Canada David Johnston and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steve MacLean.

Speaking for the Alouette Pioneers was dynamic Harry Kowalik who regaled the nearly 200 people gathered with stories of building Canada’s first satellite from scratch with no blueprints. During the evening rare never before seen video of launch preparations for the Alouette 1 were played as well as a thunderous audio recording of the launch.
Former CSA President Mac Evans was the featured speaker. Evans praised the pioneers, not only for their work on Alouette 1, but for educating the next generations of “space cadets” who came along.

Evans said the real significance of the Alouette program is that it served as the foundation for the entire Canadian space program. The Alouette pioneers – the engineers, technologists, scientists and managers had to develop everything from scratch. There were no textbooks to help them to design, build, test, launch and operate the satellite.

As a scientific satellite, it was extremely successful, returning over one million images of the ionosphere. Evans further pointed out that Alouette 1 is the most awarded satellite in Canadian history.

Evans said that the growth and success of the Canadian space industry is due to the success of the Alouette 1 mission.

Evans’ speech can be heard below.

Along with honouring the Alouette Pioneers the event included the announcement of the

winners of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge geared towards university students. Thus the celebration brought together the Pioneers, current industry workers and the next generation of space workers.

Larry Reeves of Geocentrix Technologies – the head of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge addressed the group and announced the winners of the satellite design competition. See Concordia University Wins First Canadian Satellite Design Competition.

Alouette Pioneers at the 50th Anniversary Dinner Credit: SPACEREF

Front Row: Dr. Ron Barrington, Leonard Petrie, Joe Lackner, Stu Hitchcock, Peter Townsend, Phyllis Timleck, Les Bree, Dr. John Barry, Dr. Donald Page

Back Row: Don Muldrew, Bob Hahn, David Boulding, John Colbert, Al Bingham, Dr. Andrew Molozzi, Venetia Moorhouse, Harry Kowalik, Bob Southern, Edward DuCharme, Harold Raine, Jack Belrose, Roy Cunningham, Jim Moffatt, Bertus Schreiber, Alphons Evers, Wayne Coyne

A complete overview of the Alouette 1 mission written by Chris Gainor and published in the September issue of Space Quarterly can be found here.

About Randy Attwood

Amateur astronomer, astrophotographer, space exploration historian. Executive Director, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada / Publisher - SkyNews magazine.

Leave a Reply