Canada and United States Close in on Technology Safeguards Agreement

Artist illustration: MLS launch from the Nova Scotia spaceport. Credit: MLS.

SpaceQ has learned that Canadian government and the United States are getting close to concluding negotiations for a Technology Safeguards Agreement between the two countries and that negotiations have been proceeding well.

An agreement would benefit companies like Maritime Launch Services, allowing American launch providers and payloads to use facilities like Spaceport Nova Scotia.

What is a Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA)?

As the name implies, a TSA is designed protect technology. In the case of a Canada – US TSA, this would be to protect American launch and other space related technologies such as satellites, from unauthorized access by Canadian organizations.

The bilateral treaty-level agreement would allow American organizations to conduct space launch activities in Canada with local service providers.

The Five Eyes

When Canada signs a TSA with the United States, it would become the latest and last of the Five Eyes to do so. The Five Eyes is the intelligence alliance that includes the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

New Zealand signed a TSA with the United States in 2016. The United Kingdom followed, signing in 2020, and Australia signed in the fall of 2023.

Maritime Launch Services and Spaceport Nova Scotia

In November 2021 the Canadian government sent its first clear signal from a cabinet minister that it was going to support domestic launch in Canada. At the time, Maritime Launch Services was hosting an event adjacent to the annual Halifax International Security Forum. In attendance was Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada who spoke to the crowd and said, “Congratulations to Maritime Launch Service and Nanoracks for this collaboration that will enable us to launch satellites in space from Canadian soil.”

Even before then, going back to 2018, the government began working on updating space policies related to domestic launch.

But on January 20, 2023 Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Transport announced that Canada would fully support the development of a domestic commercial space launch capability and necessary facilities. He stated Canada would allow on a case-by-case basis, orbital launches from Canada until a new regulations were fully in place.

For Maritime Launch Services, a TSA is a necessary step for its business plan which includes US launch providers and getting US satellites launched from Spaceport Nova Scotia. It also provides investors the last assurance that all parties are onboard. Maritime Launch Services can then turn letters of intent into actual contracts.

Industry Association Support

SpaceQ contacted the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) for a comment on a potential TSA between Canada and the United States. The AIAC has been facilitating meetings for stakeholders with government on this topic.

Mike Mueller, CEO of the AIAC told SpaceQ that, “A technology safeguards agreement (TSA) between Canada and the United States is required to provide certainty and clarity to industry that will benefit the Canadian economy and our commercial and defence aerospace industry.  Beyond enhancing security, this TSA grants Canada the ability to launch US technology, opening the doors for greater collaboration with the US on commercial space launches. In addition to greater collaboration between Canada and the US, this TSA will attract investment and talent, enabling the Canadian industry to thrive and compete with nations boasting well-established commercial space sectors. While negotiations are still ongoing AIAC remains committed to supporting this important initiative and we encourage the government to expedite the advancement of this important agreement to realize the significant benefits it promises for both countries.”

A source told SpaceQ that negotiations could be concluded as early as this summer.

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About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and Executive Vice President, Content of SpaceNews. Boucher has 25+ 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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