The Top 6 Canadian Space Stories of 2019

What were the top Canadian space stories of 2019? Our list is combination of editorial selection, popularity and reader feedback.

At first we were only going to select five stories for our list. But there was one additional story we felt needed to be included because of reader popularity. And that’s where we start.

No. 6 – Space Engine Systems’ Quiet Bid to Revolutionize Space Travel

Space Engine Systems DASS GNX Engine
DASS GNX Engine. Credit: Space Engine Systems.

In August we published published a long-form story of how Pradeep Dass has been quietly for years building Space Engine Systems. It’s been a private effort with some Angel funding, but mostly he’s funded the effort from the profits from his other technology company.

Dass is now looking for wider exposure of his efforts to help raise the necessary funds to take the project to the next level. Our readers, many of whom are familiar with the very visible and similar effort of Reaction Engines Limited from the UK, embraced this story and made it one of the most read we published this year.

No. 5 – Pioneering Ryerson Rocketry Students in Conflict With Engineering School Administration

A Ryerson Rocketry Club rocket launch at the Spaceport America Cup
A Ryerson Rocketry Club rocket launch at the Spaceport America Cup. Credit: Ryerson Rocketry Club.

This story came from a chance encounter at the OCE Discovery 2019 conference in May. By July enough research had been done to publish this long-form story.

It’s a compelling story of how students ideas are sometimes ahead of their teachers and managements willingness to accept them.

The good news is that after some time and persistence, the students managed to convince the University to work with them.

No. 4 – Canadian Spaceport in Nova Scotia Gets Environment Ministry Approval to Move Forward

MLS artist rendering of the vertical launch area
MLS artist rendering of the vertical launch area. Credit: MLS.

If our ranking was based solely on reader popularity, then this would be our No. 1 story, and combined with other Maritime Launch Services (MLS) stories, our No. 1 topic for the year.

Our readers are fascinated with the idea that Canada might have its own spaceport. Will 2020 be the year that the idea begins to turn into reality? Stay tuned.

No. 3 – Canadian Arctic Security Increasing with Acquisition of Three Satellites and Polar Radars

Artist illustration of three DND microsatellites in formation
Artist illustration of three microsatellites in formation. Credit: SpaceQ/Shutterstock/Space Flight Laboratory.

Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) doesn’t get a lot media coverage for its efforts in space. That could change in the coming years.

DND’s budget for all things space is growing, and if you thought Canada’s new financial commitment for its civil program related to the moon of $2.05 billion over 24 years was significant, think again. DND’s budget for space will easily outpace civil efforts for some time to come.

And while this story talks about modest investments now, those type of investments are going to continue and lead to bigger investments. Including the follow-on to our No. 2 story.

No. 2 – RADARSAT Constellation Mission Launches and Begins Operations

First engineering image captured by an RCM satellite with Google Map for reference
First engineering image captured by an RCM satellite with Google Map for reference. Credit: Canadian Space Agency/Google Maps.

We published over 20 stories this year on the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. Some of the more popular ones are listed here.

The $1+ billion whole-of-government project was years in the making and consumed a sizeable portion of the Canadian Space Agency budget for many years. The current three Earth Observation satellite constellation, which was civil and defence applications, is now fully operation. Already planning is underway to add new satellites to the constellation. In listening to both government and industry sources, it’s not a mater of if, but when the next phase is tendered.

No. 1 – Canada is Going to the Moon

A group photo with the Prime Minister, former and current astronauts and Cabinet Ministers
A group photo with the Prime Minister, former and current astronauts and Cabinet Ministers. Credit: Canadian Space Agency.

There was never any doubt as to what our No. 1 story of the year would be.

On February 28, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was going to the moon and that the government was committing $2.05 billion over 24 years towards moon programs.

Then less than week later on March 6, Canada released its new Space Strategy.

The commitment by Canada starts with the Lunar Gateway which is a part of the larger U.S. led Artemis moon program.

For the Lunar Gateway, Canada will take its robotic expertise to the next level by adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) to new robotic systems. Canada is also pushing to be a leader in medical health in Cislunar space which would also include AI medical systems.

While humans to Mars is still a goal for sometime in the 2030’s, much of the talk and funding, will go to moon related programs in the next few years.

Note: Subsequent to our writing of this story, MDA was sold by its parent company Maxar to a consortium of companies led by Toronto Based Northern Private Capital. There’s no doubt that MDA’s sale and its fortunes will be a leading story in 2020.

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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