It’s nice to see the traditional press finally stepping up to the plate and asking important questions relating to the future of our Canadian space focused industrial, entrepreneurial and academic infrastructure. This is what happened today at the Ottawa Citizen in their editorial “Rocket Science” which finally got around to asking the obvious question:
Now, where did that Long-Term Space Plan go?
Canada doesn’t have one. Three such blueprints in the past have guided Canada through exciting times, during which we invented telecom satellites, built Canadarms, created instruments that measure land, air and oceans from hundreds of kilometres above, and built part of a mission to Mars. And, of course, we sent astronauts into orbit.
But Canada hasn’t had a new plan since 1994. Scientists and engineers now wonder: Are they supposed to work on satellites, or Mars missions, or space medicine for astronauts?
According to the article, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Steve MacLean was given two months by then Industry Minister Jim Prentice when he was named the new president of the CSA in “the late summer of 2008” in order to write a new Long-Term Space Plan and told that “time is of the essence.”
Evidently, the Honorable Minister was incorrect since, according to the article “17 months later, there’s no plan in sight, and no expected date for it.”
Readers of this blog who remember my various posts on the lack of a Canadian long term space plan (starting with the May 29th, 2009 post “A Short Backgrounder on Canadian Space Policy“) should not be surprised that these issues are finally being picked up and exposed to a wider audience.
Essentially, if Canada does not define a long term space plan, private business and academia will soon go about creating their own as outlined in my previous post UK & US Governments Developing Space Plans. Mr. MacLean might need to respond to these rising calls for a long term space plan soon, or else risk becoming irrelevant to the debate.
Posted by Chuck Black at 11:00 AM
Canadian Space Commerce Association