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Will Canadian is bravely joining the new generation space project?


Amit Chakma is president and vice-rector of Western University

Members of the Canadian space community, including academic and business leaders, are engaged in urgent dialogue that emphasizes that the window could be closing Canada's opportunity to play a leading role in the development of the # 39; the global economy of the space, as well as the next exploration steps in the space.

The impetus of this on-time conversation is the emerging Lunar Gateway, an international project coordinated by NASA that would allow human expansion through the solar system. In collaboration with public and private partners, the Lunar portal imagines the design and construction of a small station that would be sent to an orbit around the moon in the next decade. Starting here, astronauts will build and test systems to advance in the lunar exploration, perform deep space experiments, improve satellite communications, and stage future missions to farthest destinations like Mart

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Unlike the International Space Station that circled the Earth at only 400 kilometers away, the Lunar Gate would orbit the moon to more than 400,000 kilometers away. This deed will imply a great deal of scientific and technological challenges, especially with regard to robotics and artificial intelligence: areas of proven Canadian force.

It is not surprising that industry leaders and university researchers from a wide variety of disciplines see the scale and the complexity of Lunar Gateway as a unique opportunity to apply their knowledge to an exciting collaborative project with truly global and potentially astronomical implications. economic benefits

Canadians have many reasons to be enthusiastic about the Gateway project, starting with our stunning story in the 60-year space. We were the third country to launch a satellite in orbit (Alouette 1 in 1962); the first to operate a national telecommunications satellite (Anik in 1972); and the first to deploy a live broadcast service home in 1982. The "Canadarm" used on Space Shuttle missions and the International Space Station has become an icon of national pride and a symbol of Canadian-renowned world renown. Only the United States and Russia have sent more astronauts to the space than Canada.

And even so, while space agencies in the United States, Europe, Russia and Japan are joining the Lunar Gateway, Canada's commitment to the international business continues to be a question mark. In fact, in recent years, Canada's place in space has dropped. While other countries of the country have increased their investments in the area as a percentage of GDP, Canada has gone from eighth place between 1992 and 18 in 2016 and our investments have not been guided by a plan Long-term for decades.

However, there are encouraging signs that the growth of a more ambitious Canadian space strategy may increase, fueled by some convincing economic arguments. For example, Morgan Stanley recently predicted that revenues generated by the global space industry could rise to $ 1,100 million in the year 2040, compared to the 2017 world space market estimated at 380 billion dollars. This expected growth will be driven by a rapid expansion of Earth observation and communication satellites over the next 20 years, and will serve a growing number of applications that depend on satellite images, remote sensing and the global positioning data to improve our quality of life and safety. .

The speculation is also increasing that more traditional industries, such as mining, predict their claims in space. Scientists say that a soccer field size asteroid could contain precious metals worth USD 50,000 million. Extrapolating NASA data that approximately 18,000 asteroids orbit near the Earth, the total value of nearby celestial minerals could be as high as the US 700-quintile. By betting that it is not just about science fiction, Luxembourg set a $ 225 million US fund in 2016 to attract corporate space companies to settle in the store in that country, Become a world leader in space mining and start researching asteroids for the year 2020.

At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that investments in space exploration have significant positive effects for the Canadian economy and the well-being of Canadians. From the application of the experience of Canadarm in the development of NeuroArm for brain surgery in the use of instruments designed for the exploration of Mars in the mining industry , the space exploration drives innovation and drives the limits of technological development.

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On September 12, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, appointed the professor of physics and astronomy at Western University, Sarah Gallagher, as the first scientific adviser to the Canadian Space Agency . In his new role, Professor Gallagher will help promote space science and the future direction of space research. A week later, the Minister of Science and Sports, Kirsty Duncan, announced that the Council for Research in Natural Sciences and Engineering is funding a public awareness campaign led by Western Planet Science and Exploration Center: "Space Matters," " which aims to highlight the importance of the space for Canadians and how it touches almost every aspect of our daily lives.

They are positive signs that our government leaders see the potential of Canada in space. But we must take bold steps that require significant government investments. Bets are too high and time is too short if we are serious about allowing the next generation of Canadian explorers and businessmen to secure the place of this country in the growing space economy. Canada can and must be an important player in the Lunar Gateway Project.

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