This Week in Space for Canada

And there you have it, the Great Canadian Handshake,” then astronaut Steve MacLean said over a scratchy radio from space back in 2006 after using the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station (ISS) to grasp 16 tonnes of machinery handed to him by a second Canadarm on the space shuttle Atlantis.

Now we have the sequel; a May 11th meeting between astronauts led by MacLean (now President of the Canadian Space Agency) with members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU). The agenda of the meeting remains largely unknown although it’s certain we can expect more hearty Canadian handshakes among the participants and perhaps even some useful discussions on our presently unreleased long term space plan (LTSP).
After all, INDU last made news in the Canadian space community back in 2008 when it held meetings on the aborted sale of portions of space contractor MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to American-owned Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Out of these meetings developed a general consensus on the need for an updated LTSP which was duly written and is presently referenced in recent CSA documents like the Reports on Plans and Priorities 2010-2011 although it remains officially unreleased.
The perception is growing that there is something in the completed document that the ruling conservative government under Stephen Harper disproves of but would not like to publicly discuss.
The INDU membership includes opposition members of parliament, is expected to be open to the public and will be webcast on ParlVU so it’s considered an open forum. However, at present no agenda or publications are available for the meeting, according to the The House of Commons INDU website, although the website does state that “publications for this Study/Activity will appear in this section as they become available.”
So we’re not totally sure what’s going to happen. The committee could end up talking about something else entirely.
Perhaps someone should mention something about the LTSP to the opposition members of the INDU Committee in order to ensure that a public discussion on the LTSP does take place.
It’s just a thought.
According to the article “Parliamentary Committee to Meet Astronaut Delegation” the astronauts attending the meeting will include MacLean, Robert Thirsk, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Frank De Winne.
That’s all for this week in space for Canada.

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