This Week in Space For Canada: November 13th, 2009

This week in space for Canada is all about building the next generation of space leaders, allowing them the chance to meet interesting people and providing the potential for learning, incentives and prizes. First off, it’s important to note that the 2009 Canadian Space Summit begins this Friday, November 20th and continues on until Sunday afternoon, November 22nd at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.

The speaker list and schedule for the Summit is posted on the Canadian Space Society (CSS) website here and according to CSS President Kevin Shortt, “things really look like they are shaping up for a great conference.” Registration begins Friday evening with a talk show style question and answer session hosted by Jacquie Perrin from CBC Newsworld. Hopefully, this will give the next generation of space leaders the opportunity to meet some of those presently working in the industry.
As for prizes and incentives, there are certainly people in Canada who don’t think we have enough of those. For example, John Chapman who runs J A Chapman Mining Services wrote an open letter to Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steve MacLean on October 30th, 2009 which stated:
“…the reason for me writing this letter is to seek your support in creating a system of prizes for Canadian universities, business and individuals, similar to the NASA Centennial Challenges in the USA. It is my opinion that a Canadian system of prizes will yield greater and faster returns for government and private space investors.”
He quotes from the October 22nd, 2009 issue of the Economist in an article titled “Space Hopper: a prize for a moon lander will be won this month.”
“I quote from this week’s Economist in the Science and Technology Section, “…provided ample demonstration of the effect, long known in technology-prize circles, that the money and effort invested in winning far exceed the financial value of the prize itself….in the right context, and with right design, prizes can work. Their other advantage is that – in contrast to the fat government contracts on which much of the aerospace industry thrives – the money is handed out only when the goals are achieved. That is a lesson in incentives that governments would do well to remember”.
So far there has been no response to the letter by CSA officials but Chapman believes that “someone needs to be the Western Canadian champion” for this sort of activism to train the next generation of mining engineers, experts and space focused entrepreneurs.
Perhaps Mr. Chapman is looking to support people like second-year medicine student Laura Drudi who, according to the article “Medical student Laura Drudi – to the infirmary, and beyond!” in the November 18th, 2009 issue of the McGill Reporter, “wants to combine her passions for space exploration and health sciences to join the list of McGillians who’ve gone on to become astronauts.”
That’s all for this week in space for Canada.

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