“The speed of government needs to adapt to the speed of innovation. That’s my job. This is the moment. So let me be very clear: As the Minister of National Defence (DND), I will remain 100% committed to advancing, enhancing, and expanding Canada’s space capabilities.”
That was the promise delivered by DND Minister Bill Blair at the Spacebound 2023 conference in Ottawa on October19, 2023. Hosted by Space Canada, the Canadian space industry’s trade association, the conference was held at the Canadian Museum of Nature October 18-19. This is the second year for the annual Spacebound event, and once again the room was packed.
The reason Bill Blair made this commitment is because “space security is not a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity,” he said. This is why “investing in space security is not an option, it’s an obligation.” Glancing across a room packed with Canadian space industry executives, Blair added, “I look forward to working with all of you to continue to keep Canadian safe and building upon our capabilities in this remarkable domain.”
Throughout his speech, Minister Blair provided examples to prove DND’s commitment to Canada’s space capabilities. “We’re working with industry and our allies to deepen our footprint in space and advance our shared cooperation,” he said. “This includes, for example, the Sapphire (space monitoring) satellite, which launched in 2013. And remarkably the satellite has provided excellent data for much longer than it was ever originally intended. Last year, my predecessor Ms. Anand announced the launch of the Redwing microsat, a research and development satellite capable of advancing space object tracking. And as you are likely aware, we have committed nearly $40 billion to NORAD modernization investment. We’re moving forward on an enhanced satellite communication project and we intend to vastly improve our communication capabilities.”
All this being said, the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) “biggest leap forward in space has been with the creation of 3 Canadian Space Division (CSD) within the RCAF,” said Minister Blair. “3 Canadian Space Division is responsible for space domain awareness, providing support to military operations, defending and protecting military space capabilities, and working closely with allies and partners on collective security. In just over a year, 3 CSD has already made important moves of support of CAF operations, and has strengthened our relationship with partners like the United States, United Kingdom Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany.” Bill Blair ended his speech with a call to action, urging the CAF and the Canadian space industry to work together to protect Canada’s space domain and grow its abilities there. “All of us in this group, all of the interested industries that you represent, must continue to look to space to protect Canada, (and) to create account of opportunities for Canadians to advance our capabilities,” he said.
- Read our previous stories from the annual Spacebound conference.