Canadian Space Agency Reorganization Underway

The federal government on March 25th released the 2010-2011 Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Report on Plans and Priorities. The report indicates that in anticipation of Cabinet and Treasury Board approval of the Long Term Space Plan (LTSP), a reorganization is underway. The much anticipated 10 year LTSP would begin to be implemented this year as soon as the government approves the plan.

The reorganization is in part due to two new government wide policies on investment planning and management of projects. The goal of these new policies is to improve accountability and strengthen management practices using the Management Accountability Framework which establishes the standards for modern management in the Government of Canada.

Along with the government mandated management policy changes the CSA is also undergoing organizational structure changes to reflect the new Long Term Space Plan. The most notable changes are in the categorization of the four Directors Generals. They along with the Vice-President, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Human Resources Officer, and the Director, Communications and Public Affairs report to the President, Steve MacLean, who himself reports to the Minister of Industry.

The Director Generals are now categorized as Space Utilization, Space Exploration, Space Science and Technology, and Corporate Services. Whereas previously they were categorized as Space Science, Space Technologies, Space Programs, and Operations Branches. The change reflects the current status of projects and priorities of future projects.

Of interest is the fact that Space Science and Technology have been merged, Space Utilization which encompasses missions such as the RADARSAT data usage is taking a more prominent role and most interesting is the elevation of Space Exploration unto a directorate of its own.

Along with the changes in the Director Generals comes the inevitable movement of personnel and projects to align with the new internal structure. This is sure to cause some anxiety in the short term as the dust settles.

The Much Anticipated Long Term Space Plan
Of note in the report is the strong language used to indicate that it is the Canadian Space Agency which is responsible to coordinate the LTSP as mandated in the Canadian Space Agency Act.

The overall coordination must rest with the Canadian Space Agency which under the Canadian Space Act has the mandate to assist the Minister of Industry in the coordination of space policies and programs of the Government of Canada.

While most Canadians may assume that all government space activities in Canada are performed by the Canadian Space Agency, the fact is, this isn’t true. The Canadian Space Agency is a part of Industry Canada but other ministries such as National Defense and Natural Resources have a vested interest in Canadian space activities with their own assets and budgets.

The release and implementation of the LTSP this year along with the 3-year stimulus money provided by Canada’s Economic Action Plan is supposed to demonstrate the Governments commitment to the space sector. And while the reports states that the LTSP has been drafted for the Government to consider, it doesn’t actually say whether it’s been presented. Based on the language of the report though, the CSA seems confident that the LTSP will be approved and is moving forward accordingly.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan Effect on the CSA
As part of the Governments Canada’s Economic Action Plan it provided an additional $110 million to the CSA over three years. More than half of that stimulus money will be spent this year on two projects: Exploration Surface Mobility and the Next Generation Canadarm. The remainder of the stimulus money will be spent next year.

The Exploration Surface Mobility (ESM) program is developing hardware and software components prototypes for Lunar Exploration Rovers and for Mars Science Rovers.
The Next Generation Canadarm (NGC) program is developing prototypes of the next generation space robotics systems to be used in Earth, Lunar or Martian orbit for the servicing, or on-orbit servicing as it is being called, of space exploration spacecraft and satellites.

csa_spending_trend.jpgCEAP = Canada’s Economic Action Plan

CSA Program Activity Alignment
More than 70% of the CSA planned spending for 2010-2011 is being spent on Space Based Earth Observation and Space Science and Exploration. Of that, as noted above, a good chunk is being spent on ESM and the NGC efforts.

One project which got the final green light in the March budget is the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. The three-satellite constellation will provide complete coverage of Canada’s land and oceans offering an average daily revisit, as well as daily access to 95% of the world. The mission which had already been allocated $111 million between 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 budgets received an additional $397 million with the bulk of the spending to happen after 2011-2012.

In other ongoing initiatives the Polar Communications and Weather satellite mission will continue as will next years launch of the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (e-POP) onboard the CASSIOPE satellite. Also onboard the CASSIOPE satellite is Cascade, an experimental high speed, high-capacity space messaging payload with commercial applications. NEOSSat, a joint project with Department of National Defence, for the detection of near earth asteroids and objects will also continue.

Emerging Initiatives
The CSA has identified many new initiatives it wishes to move forward with. Of those the most visible is the ongoing global strategy for the exploration of the solar system with Canada’s two main objectives being human and robotic exploration of the moon and a robotic sample and return mission to Mars. This emerging initiative explains in part the emergence of Space Exploration as one of the four Director General areas.

In Space Based Earth Observation the CSA is reviewing the Government of Canada space data policy. To facilitate this review an interdepartmental working group has been formed, the Federated Ground Infrastructure for Satellite Missions (FGISM). Sharing data, both domestic and from foreign sources is considered important. The CSA is also evaluating several climate and weather-related concept studies.

Of note, related to Canada’s ongoing focus on Arctic sovereignty the CSA and the Department of National Defence (DND) are partnering to manage the M3MSat micro-satellite project for the automatic identification of ships. Also planned is the next generation communications payloads such as the Ka/X/Q/V-band, a broadband satellite system, and the use of micro-satellites to enhance Canada’s sovereignty through maritime surveillance.

Reorganization Outcome
What will be the outcome of the reorganization at the CSA? How will the Long Term Space Plan affect Canadians, businesses and academia? Answers to these questions will of course take time. What is known is that the government, with input from all interested parties, and coordinated by the CSA, is set to unveil a Long Term Space Plan which is designed to serve Canada’s strategic and public policy interests for the next 10 years. Short term investments have been made in the form of stimulus money, but budgets from 2012 onward will need to grow if the current commitment is to be sustained.

About 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 LLC. Boucher has 20+ 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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