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Space opening up for private enterprise

May 11, 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons
We are living in exciting times. There’s a new space race taking place across the globe, one that will engage the public as we move forward together into the final frontier.
Helping to make the space industry more accessible to businesses, the public and even young people, is the mission of a nearby Bolton firm. Canadensys Aerospace Corporation brings minds and resources together to ensure Canada’s continued role in space exploration and the many practical applications here on tera firma. Led by several veterans of the Canadian space industry, Canadensys boasts an impressive complement of expertise, including Drs. Christian Sallaberger and Nadeem Ghafoor, and a “father” of the Canadian Space Station Program, King Township’s Jim Middleton.
Canadensys is working to keep Canada at the forefront of space exploration while finding more cost-effective solutions. It’s a unique business, Sallaberger pointed out, and it has quickly become like any other – a global commercial enterprise. Applying modern commercial models to the space race is an emerging niche and, while it is early days, this Canadian-owned and operated company has clear plans for long-term growth. It has a satellite office in the Isle of Man and its staff are busy working on everything from satellites and telescopes to mobile planetary vehicles. It’s all very exciting stuff.
While Mars occupies many people’s thoughts and imaginations, the immediate focus is the Moon. Canadensys, through its partnership with the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), is working to place an astronomy and communications hub at the south pole of the Moon in the coming years. Canadensys is developing the main instrument for ILOA’s flagship mission, ILO-1. Anticipated for 2019, ILO-1 will consist of radio astronomy, communications and anoptical telescope. This project will include a number of world-firsts and it’s incredible we have this level of local involvement.

med rover & earth only

This first step in setting up shop on the Moon has many advantages and presents many opportunities, but it is far from easy. Malapert Mountain at the lunar south pole was chosen by ILOA for its strategic location, being an area with prime views across an area of the Moon that is being heavily targeted by governments and commercial enterprise for science and resource exploration over the coming decade. On the one hand, the location benefits from long periods of sunlight for power and illumination, while at the same time having continuous sightlines to Earth for good communications. On the other hand, temperature, radiation and highly abrasive lunar dust make for a uniquely challenging environment, and Canadensys is busy working on a number of the critical technologies, from power generation, thermal control, energy storage, and mechanical sustainability, required by a new generation of lunar missions to survive under such harsh conditions.
In addition to the technology, a true “revolution” in the industry, Sallaberger said, is the shift from government control and funding, to private enterprise. More and more corporations are leading the way with Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs), communications satellites and even space tourism projects. SpaceX, led by Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Motors) is one of the industry leaders with its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo craft.
Sallaberger said his company’s focus is in this domain – in particular on small, affordable missions and modern business models that  provide opportunities for engagement and participation by a broader portion of society than ever before.
The next decade of global space development is set to be unlike anything seen in history, and Canadensys is working hard to ensure Canada is well represented on the international stage, from climate monitoring and satellite communications to science, exploration and education.
This changing landscape, coupled with an exponential growth in technology, is creating unprecedented opportunities. The miniaturization we are all familiar with in our TVs, laptops and cellphones is slowly translating to space, with satellites getting smaller yet more powerful and more efficient. There’s a growing field involving nano satellites that you can hold in your hand.
Canadensys is providing a Remote Mission Operations Centre to a Bolton elementary school to support the world’s first elementary school built satellite mission. STMSat-1 was built by a school in Arlington, Virginia, supported by advisors from NASA. They are joining forces with Bolton’s St. John Paul II to experience this real-life space mission. It’s currently on board the International Space Station, slated to be set free by mid-May. It’s about the size of a cantaloupe and it will orbit 400 kilometres above Earth taking photos every 30 seconds during its journey. The enthusiasm among these young students is impressive.
Middleton noted the caliber of university graduates finding their way into the space industry is equally impressive. Canadensys hires these passionate graduates who all contribute to furthering mankind’s progress.
All of these projects involve a tremendous amount of international collaboration and cooperation. Canadensys works together with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA, leading space organizations and multiple universities, both across Canada and around the world.
“Our philosophy is not to have to do everything but rather focus on the critical elements of the solution and partner strongly as required,” Sallaberger said, noting they sub-contract work to many experts.
A practical application to all of this comes in the form of Pyxis, Canadensys’s solution to extending the reach of Internet connectivity across the globe. Traditional telecommunications satellites in a geostationary orbit cannot provide continuous and reliable voice and data connectivity to high latitude and polar regions on Earth. Canadensys plans to use small satellites, in a highly elliptical polar orbit, to fill the broadband gap and provide reliable and affordable connectivity to users in aviation, maritime and land markets.
Meanwhile, participation in the global space exploration endeavor brings benefits of a different kind and also pays huge dividends here at home.
“Humanity requires things that spur innovation,” Sallaberger said, adding space provides an opportunity to bring the best minds and people together from around the world.
The ISS is a prime example. This massive international effort has created our largest space platform ever. Work done aboard the station has resulted in many medical breakthroughs and scientific experiments are routinely carried out that would be impossible on Earth.
Perhaps most interesting of all is how the public’s access to space is set to grow over the coming decade. We will benefit from not only the technological offshoots, but we will be given unprecedented glimpses into the far reaches of space. If travelling into space is on your bucket list, you will likely get that chance in the years to come.
Canadensys and its team are working hard to ensure that indeed one small step can result in a giant leap for mankind.
For more, visit them at http://www.canadensys.com

         

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