The CSA announces FAST 2021 is open for proposals

Credit: SpaceQ/Canadian Space Agency.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has announced that the Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) program for 2021 is open for proposals with a total budget of $5.28 million.

The CSA describes the program as follows: “The objective of this Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) AO is to support the research projects of Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions that will contribute to the development of new scientific knowledge and space technologies, while making it possible for students to acquire hands-on experience in space-like missions.”

The CSA describes space-like missions as follows:

“‘Space-like missions’ are projects that allow space experts in academia to propose interesting research suitable to maintain their expertise, in addition to attracting and training the next generation of space professionals, and preparing future missions. These projects generally consist of the following:”

  • Designing, building, modifying or testing scientific instruments or technologies;
  • Using them in a simulated space environment, or flying them, if applicable, on suborbital or miniature orbital platforms (nanosatellites or CubeSats);
  • Developing new approaches to efficiently use technologies or applications in space or for space;
  • If applicable, conducting data collection and/or analysis of the instrument or technology developed to address scientific or operational objectives.

The CSA will offer grants in three categories:

  • Category A: Projects with a duration of a maximum 3 years. Maximum amount per grant is $300,000. (At least five (5) Canadian students in a project funded)
  • Category B: Projects with a duration of a maximum 3 years. Maximum amount per grant is $100,000. (At least three (3) Canadian students in a project funded)
  • Category C: Projects with a duration of a maximum 1 year. Maximum amount per grant is $40,000. (At least two (2) Canadian students in a project funded)

The application deadline is October 15, 2021. The estimated project start date is March 2020 onwards.

The CSA states there have been several important changes to the program from the previous announcement of opportunity (AO) in 2019. The changes are:

  • Inclusion of Funding Category C: Applicants can now submit an application for funding under Category C (up to $40,000 for a one-year project involving at least 2 students);
  • Project eligibility (exclusions): Certain types of projects are not eligible for funding. These exclusions are listed in Section 3.2 of the AO;
  • Electronic submissions: FAST applications can now be submitted electronically. Instructions on how to submit an application electronically are provided in Section 4.1 of the AO;
  • Research priorities: The research priorities for each research discipline have been updated, and applicants will be required to select only one (1) research discipline under which their project will be evaluated. Details regarding the research priorities are provided in Section 3.3 of the AO;
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI): An EDI plan will be required as part of the evaluation criteria for this AO. Details regarding this criteria are provided in Section 5.2 and in Appendix C of the AO.

Eligible research disciplines and priorities

The following is a list of research disciplines eligible. More details including the specific research priorities are available on the AO web page.

  • Innovative Space Technology
  • Space Health and Life Sciences
  • Space Astronomy
  • Planetary Exploration
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Earth System Science
  • Solar-Terrestrial Science

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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