This Week in Space for Canada

The US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency exercises an option for more data from RADARSAT II and COM DEV International hires the very experienced ex-president of Rogers Telecom and Spar Space Systems to sit on the HR and compensation committees. Meanwhile, back in the ivory tower, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) posts two new funding opportunities for Canadian universities looking to participate in the Mars Science Laboratory. All that and more, this week in space for Canada.

Our first story this week comes to us via the February 22nd, 2011 press release from MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) titled “MDA to provide information to the U.S. Government to support safe maritime navigation” which states:

… the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has exercised an option under an existing Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity delivery order with MDA. The multi-million dollar option is for the provision of additional information derived from RADARSAT-2 that will be used to create ice charts to improve the safety of maritime navigation.

No other details are publicly available on the agreement, which makes a lot of sense when you consider that the organization contracting for the RADARSAT data is an agency of the United States Government with the primary mission of collection, analysis, and distribution of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security with a classified budget and no public record of its total number of employees (at least according to the December 13, 2002 article “Secretive map agency opens it’s doors“).
MDA plans to release its fourth quarter and year end 2010 financial results at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (1:30 p.m. Pacific Time) on Monday, February 28, 2011, during a conference call with MDA President Daniel Friedmann and Executive Vice-President and CFO Anil Wirasekara, according to the February 15th, 2011 press release “MEDIA ADVISORY – MDA’s Fourth Quarter and Year End 2010 results conference call alert.”
Perhaps they’ll be happy to answer questions regarding this additional option on an existing contract during that upcoming call next week.
Which brings us to our second story. According to the February 23, 2011 article “COM DEV appoints David Masotti to Board of Directors” the current executive chairman of bio-defence company Defyrus Inc. and managing director of Tancho Innovation Capital has a new gig.
He’ll be on the Com Dev board of directors, as well as a member of the boards human resources and compensation committee.
I wish him luck. To me, this looks like the company is gearing up to hire some new “C” level executives.
According to the January 30th, 2011 article on the Pars3c website “Com Dev literally growing a five-year plan” the company has had recent difficulties including:
… switching CEOs, finding themselves behind in five satellite projects, and working to still keep business going through contracts and meeting obligations such as shipping out test parts for the James Webb Space Telescope.
Mr. Masotti has worked in telecommunications, aerospace and venture capital, with previous leadership roles including President and Chief Operating Officer of Chemtrade Logistics Inc., President of Rogers Telecom Inc., and President of Spar Space Systems.
Which brings us to our final story this week. According to this recently published article on the Carlton University website titled “Canadian Space Agency” the CSA has just posted two new funding opportunities for Canadian participation in the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Participating Scientist Program.
Canada is already playing a role in the upcoming mission, at least according to the February 20th, 2011 Postmedia News article “Canada to play important role in Mars mission” with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (designed by University of Guelph physicist Ralf Gellert and built by MDA) which is scheduled to be mounted on the Mars rover Curiosity as part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
The mission is officially scheduled for launch this year (although pretty much everyone concerned with this project expects the launch date to slip).
And that’s all for this week in space for Canada.

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