Volume 2: Reaching Higher: Canada's Interests and Future in Space – November 2012

Part 4

Human endeavours in space have shifted increasingly from a focus on exploration to practical applications and commercial activity. For the foreseeable future, nation-states will remain the largest clients for space ventures—including scientific discovery, Earth observation, and the provision of public services—but more and more, they will be joined by companies selling space-related activities and services at a profit.

Technological advances, primarily in the capabilities of satellites, have made space indispensable to the functioning of contemporary societies. Space-based assets make life on Earth more productive, prosperous, safe, and interesting. The value of space activity—both in commercial terms and in its contribution to the public good—will multiply in the future.

It is essential that Canada capitalize on its strengths in space and position its space sector to be at the forefront of what has become an international race for new ways to turn space to public advantage and private gain. Not to do so is to forfeit opportunities that can never be regained. Our national interests, including in the North and along our security perimeter, demand a range of space-based equipment and applications. Our space firms should be marketing cutting-edge designs and services to the world. Our economy should be benefiting from the rewarding jobs, investment opportunities, and technological innovations and spinoffs that come with space projects. And our researchers and youth should be inspired by the potential to contribute to fundamental knowledge and the betterment of humankind through space-related studies and careers.

Taking advantage of these opportunities requires, first and foremost, that clear priorities for the Canadian Space Program be established at the highest levels. Only then can the creative energies and resources of government agencies, industry, and the academic and research communities be effectively channelled. Robust management structures and plans are required to efficiently marshal efforts in support of these priorities. A carefully calibrated approach to public procurements must be used to balance emphasis on fostering the technological and commercial capacities of Canada's space sector with value-for-money considerations. And the competitive spirit of the Canadian space industry must be as great as its manifest ingenuity.

Canada has already accomplished great things in space. Renewed clarity of purpose and focused administration will allow us to eclipse even those successes. For the sake of future generations of Canadians, it's time to reach higher.