Could Canada’s Future Include Launching Rockets to Orbit?

There’s an effort underway by a new company called Open Space Orbital to raise funds to build Canada’s first small satellite launcher which would be based out of Nova Scotia.

It’s a long shot but does have a credible Board of Directors. Currently they’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to raise an initial $100,000.

With the funds they will do the following:

  • Prototype Development Project (PDP): Our first small rocket engine will be designed and assembled internal to Open Space and test key design concepts on a small scale. Outsourcing, particularly regarding the engine’s nozzle, will be deferred to one of the Canada-based aerospace composite manufacturers competing for the contract. 
  • Preliminary Launch Vehicle Design: In partnership with Continuum Aerospace, a preliminary design of our first mission-ready launch vehicle (whose normal configuration will demonstrate a maximum payload capacity of 50 kg) will be completed and considered for our first full scale rocket. 
  • Business Development: Planning is important. In partnership with CFC Consultants (Atlantic), we will be performing strategic refinements to Open Space’s business plan, concentrating primarily on tactical planning, funding requirements and communications strategies. The main objective of completing these refinements is to prepare Open Space for investment of any kind – commercial and governmental. 
  • Market Analysis: To gain an intellectual edge over international competitors, a Canada-specific market analysis will be completed by Rogue Thought Consulting, particularly Norman Deschamps, who received a Master’s in microsatellite design before founding RGC. This report will detail the market’s current status and future trends on a nation-specific basis, expected market and regulatory hurdles, the potential for new satellite manufacturing companies and universities to enter the industry alongside a low cost, domestic launch solution, and a survey of Canadian satellite manufacturers and academic/commercial aerospace programs pertaining to the impact that our solution would have on their goals and operations.
I wrote a story for SpaceRef Canada on their efforts which goes into more detail.

Would a Liberal Government Reform the Canadian Space Program?

I recently published a story, some 3000 words, a speculative piece on what the consequences would be if the Liberals won the election next year. Here’s an excerpt.

Would a Liberal Government Reform the Canadian Space Program?

Parliament has adjourned for the summer and members of parliament (MP) are back in their ridings doing the summer BBQ circuit. But when they get back in the fall they’ll be in full election mode. So this seems an appropriate time as any to look ahead and gaze into my crystal ball and see what would happen if the Liberal’s were elected.

The next federal election is set by law for October 19, 2015. However the government has the option to call the election sooner and the political rumour mill is churning with that possibility.

With the economy supposedly doing better, and after several years of austerity, and with an election looming, the 2015 budget should see some increased spending. Will that translate into a boost for Canada’s space program. Likely not, as it’s not a priority topic with the average Canadian, who for the most part, are unaware to what degree their daily lives are affected by Canada’s space program and assets. So as an election issue it has no traction.

The Conservative government has been conservative with the Canadian space program. Base funding has been decreasing and only one national priority project is being funded to completion, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. It seems unlikely the conservative government would change its position if it was re-elected.

But what is a Liberal government was elected?

While Liberal governments in the recent past haven’t exactly been generous towards Canada’s space program, they have invested more than the Conservatives.

So would a Liberal government invest more in Canada’s space program than the Conservatives would? I believe they would and here’s why.

Read the full story on SpaceRef Canada.

Canada’s Housing Bubble, Real or Imaginary?

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives yesterday released a study title “Canada’s Housing Bubble – An Accident Waiting to Happen” in which they state that “for the first time in 30 years, six of Canada’s hottest real estate markets are in a housing bubble.” The study examined trends in house prices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa between 1980 and 2010.

The Globe and Mail reported on the study today with a feature titled “Why the housing market may be heading for correction” which illustrates the main points of the report.
The question is, is a coming real estate correction real or imaginary?
I’ve lived in Vancouver for the past 22 years until a recent move to Toronto and I’ve seen prices rise dramatically in the last 8 years. From my perspective the market is in serious need of a correction. The percentage of income home owners spend on their mortgage is alarming high. It’s not sustainable if you plan to retire with any comfort. We’re seeing a fundamental long term shift in housing affordability. The consequences should be of concern to everyone.

New Media Hearings – CRTC Should Once Again Do Nothing

Ten years ago I testified at the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) New Media hearings in Ottawa and argued that they should not regulate Canadian Internet content. I stand by that decision and they did not regulate Canadian Internet content at that time.

Today the CRTC held its first hearing in 10 years to consider a new proposal that would see a $100-million fund created to support Canadian content on the Internet. That fund would be created by a levy on the Internet Service Providers who of course would then pass it on to the consumer. What really irks me about this discussion other than an increase in my monthly internet service provider bill, is that the content this fund would create is Canadian online video programming from Canadian television production companies. Don’t we already subsidize Canadian television production companies? Why can’t they just take their existing content and broadcast it on YouTube? Hey, they already do! And if more people are watching video online then in front of their TV’s then why not shift some of their exsiting budget towards more online video? Creating a fund that will pay for doing something the television production industry should already be doing is ridiculous.

If the CRTC insists on meddling with New Media then why not create an online technology development fund that companies can draw on to create more high tech products made in Canada and marketed globally. This would create new jobs in the high tech industry helping position Canada as a leader in whatever sectors these companies enter. The fund should not be passed on to the consumer through Internet Service Providers though. It should come in the form of a new tax credit or other mechanism.

If the CRTC deems to impose this levy (read tax) then I will support the companies that fight this though legal channels.

Follow the CRTC New Media Hearings Day 2 on the live Globe and Mail blog.