This Week in Space for Canada

Thank goodness we’re not the American’s because US space competitiveness has eroded in each of the past three years according to the Futron Space Competitiveness Index, which considers Russia the big winner in space because of its recently doubled space budget and focus on monetizing national space investments but which also concedes that Europe, Japan, China and India are also expanding their activities. So how do Canadian’s compare? All that and more, this week in space for Canada.

Our first story comes to us via Futron Corporation, a US based aerospace, telecommunications and technology consulting company which publishes the Space Competitiveness Index, which the company pitches as being “a comparative analysis of how countries invest in and benefit from space industry.” According to the article “U.S. Space Edge Erodes, Non-Traditional Players Ascend, and Competition Intensifies: Futron Announces 2010 Space Competitiveness Index Trends” as posted July 21st, 2010 on the Earth Times website:
The 2010 results show that even as countries continue to collaborate in space, competition is growing more intense,” observes Futron Chief Operating Officer Peggy Slye. “Dominant actors are increasingly challenged by a second and third tier of space leaders, and the competitive gaps among all nations are narrowing.”
However, “Canada punches above its weight” according to the article which goes on to state that Canadian leaders selectively target key relationships and technologies to maximize economic and commercial benefits. Unfortunately, there was no discussion of how the lack of a Canadian long term space plan will affect this strategy.
At the very least, it’s reasonable to assume that the lack of this high level policy document will move the relationship and technology targeting from the strategic policy level towards the more tactical level of individual businesses and organizations focusing on their own shorter term requirements.
What that means for Canada might be something for Futron to address at some point, perhaps in time for inclusion in their 2011 space competitiveness index.
The Futron report did say that the clear winner in 2010 was Russia:
“NASA and the U.S. government could learn a lot from Russia,” says Jonathan Beland, a Futron analyst specializing in the region. “Russia has become partner of choice for space agencies around the work seeking to develop new capacity. From South Korea to China, from private enterprise to governments, Russia is capitalizing on its space investments and developing long-term relationships with emerging powers.”
Of course, this brings us to our second story this week. According to the July 20th, 2010 BBC News article “Russia to kick off construction of a new spaceport” the Russian government will invest US $800m (527m) into a new spaceport to ease the dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and take advantage of new opportunities.
The new facility will be smaller than Baikonur, which Russia rents from Kazakhstan.
In an effort to begin filling the new spaceport with paying customers, the Russian Federal Space Agency signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK Space Agency at the Farnborough Airshow on July 21st according to the July 22nd post on the UK based Rocketeers website titled “Historic space deal between UK and Russia.”
The Rocketeers website also includes coverage of a bilateral agreement between Space Florida and UK Trade & Investment, an announcement of the upcoming Space Ship 2 glide test this autumn and coverage of the first scheduled Skylon engine text (Skylon engine test in 3-4 years).
All of which suggests (to me at least) that perhaps there are quite a few more interesting space focused activities being carried out in England (which isn’t really considered a major space focused player by experts like Futron, except as part of their connections to the larger European Space Agency) then there is in Canada, which experts at Futron perceive as punching above its weight.
That’s all for this week in space for Canada.

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