With budget cuts to the Canadian Space Agency expected this week, leaders of Canada’s commercial space industry are gathering at the NAC today to talk about the way forward for the growing industry.
“The CSA is already set to lose a 14 per cent stimulus from its $350 million budget and maybe more with federal budget cuts,” says Chuck Black of the Canadian Space Commerce Association. “Canadian companies like MDA, Neptec and Com Dev, which work with them, will be worried, and it could impact the $3.5 billion the industry produces each year.”
Since 2009, Ottawa’s Neptec has been working on a lunar rover called Artemis in partnership with the CSA, but money for the project runs out March 31 and the resulting rover will likely be mothballed.
With that in mind, Black, who is the conference organizer, said that he’s bringing in speakers from European and U.S. companies who started from nothing and are now driving the space industry, such as Alex Saltman, who represents players such as the X PRIZE Foundation.
“These guys have been through the same pull back on funding with NASA,” said Black, “and can help us find a way forward.”
More than 140 Canadian companies are currently working in the space industry and produce everything from technology for the Mars Science Laboratory rover to the Canada Arm and 60 to 70 per cent of all satellite component pieces.
Although the commercial industry is growing each year and doing well, Black said, cutting funding from the CSA puts a halt to any new projects, such as the Artemis rover, which gets a start with the organizations assistance.
“As a scientist or engineer, the most important part of your budget is what funds new projects,” Black said. “The stimulus money was put there to develop new projects, and when that winds down, there isn’t much new happening at the CSA.”