This Week in Space for Canada: December 4th, 2009

This week in space for Canada is all about collecting useful pieces of information in order to discern developing patterns coalescing around the Canadian space industry. To that end, we’ll be using disjointed reports from unusual sources, incomplete information from established news outlets and passing comments from experts both acknowledged and otherwise.

Our first piece of useful information this week is from the Canadian government Merx website, providing a complete listing of all municipal, provincial and federal public tenders where we find this recent Canadian Space Agency request for proposal abstract for Indigenous Micro Satellite Launchers – A Strategic Analysis of the Market.
According to the RFP, the purpose of the study is to “gather sufficient information to support the decision concerning the development of an indigenous micro satellite launch vehicle and the possible implementation models.”
The document is dated November 25th, 2009 and follows immediately on the heels of the recent 2009 Canadian Space Summit where members of the US military openly discussed the need for developing a Canadian based satellite launching capability as reported in my November 20th This Week for Space in Canada post.
Based on these activities, it’s reasonably safe to conclude that the Canadian Forces are not the only organization interested in developing a Canadian specific satellite launch capability. It will be interesting to see which organizations and individuals involve themselves in the debate and the positions they choose to advocate.
Our second piece of useful information this week is from the traditional media which has been strongly promoting Richard Branson and his recent unveiling of SpaceShip 2, a privately funded suborbital space ship expected to be used for space commercialization (as per the article Suborbital Commercialization Takes a Step Forward with Virgin Galactic Unveiling of SpaceShipTwo), micro satellite launches (in conjunction with Abu Dhabi investors as per the article Virgin unveils Space Ship 2 from the Arabian Aerospace online news site) and eventual high speed transport throughout the world.
The Canadian angle of the story is the concurrent announcement that Canadian entrepreneur John Criswick (who owns a variety of IT and internet focused companies including Magmec Games and according to his website at has signed up with Virgin Galactic as one of their first 300 paying customers (as per the article Another Canadian hopes to become space tourist as posted on the CTV Montreal News website).
It is unfortunate that the American developed Space Ship 2 (now named VSS or Virgin Space Ship Enterprise) is likely subject to a variety of US laws including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Enhancement Act and thus entirely unsuitable for Canadian needs as described in the article Canada’s space program hampered by U. S. laws recently posted in the Kingston Whig-Standard.
Our final piece of useful information comes from from the University of Mississippi School of Law blog, Res Cummunis, which is focused on the legal aspects of human activities using aerospace technologies and their recent post on the 4th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law: Peaceful Purposes and Uses of Outer Space scheduled for December 10th, 2009.
The Canadian connection to this story has to do with the first Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law, a 2006 conference and workshop organized by McGill University Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) in cooperation with the Cologne Institute of Air and Space Law, the Leiden International Institute of Air and Space Law and the University of Mississippi National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law.
The importance of the symposium has to do with the growing perception by the organizations participating that their area of discussion is no longer of simply academic concern and their decisions will soon have some very practical consequences for people and organizations considering space focused ventures. These include space tourists buying tickets on Virgin Galactic, the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Space Agency.
That’s all for this week in space for Canada.

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