Canadian Space Agency Looks to Industry to Lease the David Florida Laboratory

The first RCM satellite being transferred to the TVAC chamber at the David Florida Laboratory. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to see whether industry is interested in leasing the historic David Florida Laboratory where much of Canada’s space hardware has been tested before going into space.

The David Florida Laboratory (DFL) is an assembly, integration, and testing laboratory and is scheduled to close by the end of March 2025. When we wrote about the news in early March of this year, the CSA told us “DFL will be moving towards a wind-down posture over the next several months, allowing the DFL’s clientele and the Canadian space sector to make alternate arrangements for testing services.”

In an email sent out today on the RFI, the CSA states that they want to see DFL continue as it offers “unique testing services within Canada” and that it has supported “Canada’s thriving space sector.”

They further stated that “In March 2024, the CSA announced its plans to close the DFL following a strategic review of its operations as part of the Refocusing Government Spending exercise. A careful review of alternative business models was undertaken to explore how best to address the ongoing assembly and testing needs of the Canadian space sector. The termination of the federal government’s operations of the DFL creates a potential opportunity for industry to maintain its operations and manage the continued use of this world-class testing facility.”

Interestingly, as part of the pitch for someone to lease the facility, the CSA has a quote from the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. It states “We must leverage resources as efficiently as possible and find opportunities to better utilize them. This will be an opportunity for industry to maintain a world-class testing facility to support our objective to grow Canada’s industrial capacity and high-quality research and technology for space.”

The question is, who would want to take on a facility this size?

According to the CSA, “DFL facilities offer a range of services such as thermal vacuum, thermal balance, vibration, modal, and radio frequency testing, as well as mass properties measurements to name but a few. The DFL is one of only a few facilities of its kind in the world that are capable of simulating the enormous stresses experienced during a rocket launch and the temperature extremes that are associated with space flight.”

DFL includes the following:

  • Two Class 100,000 clean rooms measuring 315 and 1,080 square metres (3,400 and 11,600 square feet), that are fully equipped for the integration and assembly of satellites and other space hardware
  • Three space simulation chambers, the largest of which is 7 × 10 metres (deep) (22 × 35 feet) for performing thermal vacuum and thermal balance testing, and one small chamber for performing outgassing tests
  • A range of thermal, temperature humidity, and thermal passive intermodulation (PIM) chambers for performing various thermal and thermal PIM tests
  • A variety of modal, static load, mass properties, photogrammetry, and thermal vibration equipment that are available for qualifying the structural aspects of various test articles; the larger of the two electrodynamic shakers has a force rating of 178 kN (40 k lbf)
  • Various anechoic chambers, shielded rooms and antenna ranges and associated radio frequency (RF) equipment for performing spherical, cylindrical, and planar near-field, far-field, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), and PIM/multipaction testing on a variety of antennas and RF payloads

Interested organizations have until May 28, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time to respond.

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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