Remarks by Lisa Campbell at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress

Canadian Space Agency President delivers her remarks at. the 72nd International Astronautical Congress Heads of Agencies plenary. Credit: International Astronautical Federation.

Canadian Space Agency President Lisa Campbell participated in the 72nd International Astronautical Congress and provided these remarks during the Heads of Agency plenary.

The remarks were in response to the moderators questions, What were the recent achievements of your agency and what will be the priorities for the coming years? and What work is your agency doing to bring the benefits of space activities back to Earth?

The first question is the standard opening question posed to all the Heads of Agencies attending the plenary each year.

Ms. Campbell’s responses as provided to SpaceQ by the CSA were:

What were the recent achievements of your agency and what will be the priorities for the coming years?

  • Last year we celebrated 20 years of human presence aboard the International Space Station.
  • When Canada’s space robots were designed for the Station, we could only imagine what the future of space exploration would look like. We tried to develop robots that could evolve.
  • This summer, Canadarm2 and our robot Dextre teamed up to use images from their cameras, to autonomously connect to an anchor point on the Station. This operation usually requires controllers from the ground.
  • Our robotics expertise has evolved significantly … increasingly allowing robots to perform tasks without human intervention.
  • In the coming years, we will be taking AI-enabled robotics to the next level, especially with Canadarm3 on the Lunar Gateway. In fact, work on Canadarm3 is already underway.
  • Thanks to this contribution, a Canadian astronaut will be part of Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the Moon since 1972.
  • Last Fall, we joined our partners in signing the Artemis Accords.
  • Since then, we consulted Canadians on a framework for future space exploration. They confirmed the urgent need for updated regulations given the rapid development of technology, and growing interest in space worldwide. These consultations will help inform Canada’s national and international efforts.
  • This year we also announced that Canadian companies will have the opportunity to conduct technology demonstrations in lunar orbit and on the Moon’s surface.
  • And within the next five years, Canada plans to land a small lunar rover on the Moon.
  • CSA’s new tech accelerator program is supporting promising technologies with strong commercial potential for the lunar supply chain.
  • We recognize that sustained investment helps our space companies continue to develop.
  • Even though the pandemic challenged our usual business processes again this year, I am proud that the CSA team was able to maintain and even grow investments. As a result, Canada’s space sector has emerged stronger than ever.
  • Closer to Earth, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission satellites are completing their second year of operations. They’ve been collecting a quarter of a million images of the Earth every year.
  • For a country like Canada, SAR (digital synthetic aperture radar) imagery is critical. It can “see” through smoke and clouds to provide pictures of the Earth both day and night.
  • This Earth Observation technology is now being developed to one day be used to ‘see’ ice on Mars.
  • The data generated by the RCM satellites is enabling over 60 different critical services for the Government of Canada, in areas like environmental monitoring, ice mapping, farming and safety and security.
  • Technology is advancing quickly and in the future, a broader range of data combined with AI and powerful computing could generate infinite solutions for life on Earth.
  • Finally, like all of you, we are looking forward to the upcoming Webb telescope launch. Canada has contributed two instruments – one will help the telescope locate and track its targets, and ensure clear and detailed pictures; the other will enable scientists to determine the composition of exoplanets’ atmospheres and observe distant galaxies.
  • Thank you.

What work is your agency doing to bring the benefits of space activities back to Earth?

  • If you want to measure the heartbeat of our planet, if you want to discover new information on our environment, one of the best places to find the answers is from space.
  • Through our smartEarth program, we are funding the development of applications that use satellite data to help solve key challenges in our everyday lives.
  • A great example is smartWhales – a project to explore how satellite data can be used to help detect, monitor, and predict the behaviour of North Atlantic right whales, an endangered species.
  • This year we completed our contribution to the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite – the first-ever global survey of surface water. The CSA delivered to NASA the enabling technology for the space-based radar.
  • Canada is surrounded by three oceans and covered with millions of lakes and rivers, of which less than 5% are actually monitored for level and flow. SWOT will provide complete coverage of most lakes and rivers, including northern Canada.
  • This first global inventory of Canadian waters will serve to improve our water management and assist in prediction of floods and drought. Canadian scientists are now preparing for launch and operations through modelling, simulations, and airborne data acquisitions.
  • We can also make a difference in improving life on Earth through exploring beyond Earth’s orbit.
  • Keeping astronauts safe and healthy on missions to the Moon and Mars is critical. Some of the challenges are similar to ones faced by remote or isolated communities both in Canada and around the world.
  • We’re a partner of NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge – a competition to develop new technologies to produce food for future space missions, while advancing food production on Earth. We received more than 60 cutting-edge proposals.
  • We are already working with partners in the Canadian Arctic to learn how to grow fresh food in harsh environments.
  • Partners like the community in Gjoa Haven Nunavut, above the Arctic Circle. Winters there are long, cold and windy, with temperatures dipping to -40 °C. The new technologies discovered for food production here could help us grow food in deep space.
  • The CSA is also bringing together health and space experts to find solutions to common healthcare challenges with miniaturized and portable medical devices, innovative sensor technologies, and AI-enabled virtual healthcare solutions.
  • Right now, a Canadian technology called Bio-Monitor is being used to observe and record astronauts’ vital signs on the ISS. The aim is to prepare for long-duration spaceflights but also to find applications on Earth in areas like cardiovascular disease, ageing, Parkinson’s, and healthcare delivery in remote and isolated areas.
  • And very soon, the CSA will be launching a health challenge, to incentivize further development of technology that can address healthcare challenges both in deep space and in remote communities.
  • Canada is proud to be a founding member of the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” this year. Over the life of the Charter, we have supported relief efforts in over 685 disasters worldwide with RADARSAT satellite images, and we’re thankful for the times we have benefited from the satellite data provided by our partners.
  • This year we worked to make acquiring and distributing this data even faster.
  • These are only a few examples that show that at the CSA, all of our ideas, all our missions, begin on this planet, and are designed to bring value to life on Earth.
  • Thank you.

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 Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 28 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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