The origins of the Canadian upper atmosphere and space program can be traced back to the end of the Second World War. Between 1945 and 1960, Canada undertook a number of small launcher and satellite related projects under the aegis of defence research, including the development of the Black Brant rocket as well as series of advanced studies examining both orbital rendezvous and re-entry. In 1957, scientists and engineers at the Canadian Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) under the leadership of John H. Chapman embarked on a project initially known simply as S-27 or the Topside Sounder Project. This work would soon lead to the development of Canada's first satellite known as Alouette 1.
With the launch of Alouette 1 in September 1962 Canada became the third country to put an artificial satellite into space. At the time, Canada only possessed upper atmospheric launch capabilities (sounding rockets), therefore, Alouette 1 was sent aloft by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. The technical excellence of the satellite, which lasted for ten years instead of the expected one, prompted the further study of the ionosphere with the joint Canadian-designed, US-launched ISIS satellite program. This undertaking was designated an International Milestone of Electrical Engineering by IEEE in 1993. The launch of Anik A-1 in 1972 made Canada the first country in the world to establish its own domestic geostationary communication satellite network.
These and other space related activities in the 1980s compelled the Canadian government to promulgate the Canadian Space Agency Act which established the Canadian Space Agency. The Act received royal assent on May 10, 1990 and came into force on December 14, 1990.
In 1999 the CSA was moved from project based to 'A-base' funding and given a fixed annual budget of $300 Million. The actual budget varies from year to year due to additional earmarks and special projects.
The mandate of the Canadian Space Agency is to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians. The Canadian Space Agency's mission statement says that the agency is committed to leading the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.1989 - May 4, 1992 – Larkin Kerwin
May 4, 1992 – July 15, 1994 - Roland Doré
November 21, 1994 – 2001 - William MacDonald Evans
November 22, 2001 – November 28, 2005 – Marc Garneau
April 12, 2007 – December 31, 2007 - Larry J. Boisvert
January 1, 2008 - September 2, 2008 - Guy Bujold
September 2, 2008 – February 1, 2013 - Steven MacLean
February 2, 2013 – August 5, 2013 - Gilles Leclerc (interim)
August 6, 2013 - November 3, 2014 - Walter Natynczyk
November 3, 2014 - March 9, 2015 - Luc Brûlé, Interim
March 9, 2015 - Sylvain Laporte
The CSA has been a cooperating state of the European Space Agency (ESA) since the 1970s, and has several formal and informal partnerships and collaborative programs with space agencies in other countries, such as NASA, ISRO, JAXA, and SNSB.
Canada's collaboration with Europe in space activities predated both the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. From 1968, Canada held observer status in the European Space Conference (ESC), a ministerial-level organization set up to determine future European space activities, and it continued in this limited role after ESA was created in 1975. Since January 1, 1979, Canada has had the special status of a "Cooperating State" with the ESA, paying for the privilege and also investing in working time and providing scientific instruments which are placed on ESA probes. Canada is allowed to participate in optional programs; it also has to contribute to the General Budget but not as much as associate membership would have entailed. This status was unique at the time and remains so today.
On 15 December 2010 the accord was renewed for a further 10 years, until 2020. By virtue of this accord, Canada takes part in ESA deliberative bodies and decision-making and in ESA's programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision specifically ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada. The head of the Canadian delegation to ESA is the president of the Canadian Space Agency. As of February 2009, there are currently 30 Canadians that are employed as staff members at ESA. (Distributed over various ESA sites: 20 at ESTEC; 4 at ESOC; 4 at ESA HQ; 2 at ESRIN).
The Canadian Space Program is administered by the Canadian Space Agency. Canada has contributed technology, expertise and personnel to the world space effort, especially in collaboration with ESA and NASA.
In addition to its astronauts and satellites, some of the most notable Canadian technological contributions to space exploration include the Canadarm on the Space Shuttle, as well as the Canadarm2 and the rest of the Mobile Servicing System on the International Space Station. The Canadarm and Canadarm2 employ the Advanced Space Vision System which allows more efficient use of the robotic arms. Another Canadian technology of note is the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, which is an extension of the Canadarm used to inspect the Space Shuttle's thermal protection system for damage while in orbit.
There have been four recruiting campaigns for astronauts for the CSA. The first, in 1983, led to the selection of Roberta Bondar, Marc Garneau, Robert Thirsk, Ken Money, Bjarni Tryggvason and Steve MacLean. The second, in 1992, selected Chris Hadfield, Julie Payette, Dafydd Williams and Michael McKay. On May 13, 2009, it was announced after the completion of a third selection process that two new astronauts, Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques, had been chosen. The latest recruitment campaign was launched in 2016, totaling 3,772 applicants for 2 candidates.
Nine Canadians have participated in 17 manned mission in total: 14 NASA Space Shuttle missions (including one mission to Mir) and 3 Roscosmos Soyuz missions.
Two former Canadian astronauts never flew in space; Michael McKay resigned due to medical reasons and Ken Money resigned in 1992, eight years after his selection.
On December 19, 2012, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to reach the International Space Station. This mission marked the completion of NASA's compensation to Canada for its contribution to the Shuttle and International Space Station programs, meaning that there were no confirmed remaining space flight opportunities for Canadian astronauts. In June 2015, the Canadian government announced a renewed commitment to the International Space Station, securing flights for both of Canada's remaining active astronauts. In May 2016, the CSA announced that David Saint-Jacques would fly to the International Space Station aboard a Roscosmos Soyuz rocket in November 2018 for 6 months, as part of the Expedition 58/59 crew.
Additionally, there are commercial satellites launched by the telecommunications company Telesat, a former Crown corporation that was privatized in 1998. These are the Anik satellites, the Nimiq satellites (all currently used by Bell TV), and MSAT-1. Further, technology and research satellites have been developed by UTIAS-SFL, including the CanX program, ExactView-9, and GHGSat-D.
The CSA contributes to many international projects including satellites, rovers, and space telescopes. The CSA has contributed components to ESA, NASA, ISRO, JAXA, and SNSB projects in the past. Currently, Canada is contributing the Fine Guidance Sensor to NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.
Additionally, Canadian universities and aerospace contractors, including the University of Calgary, UTIAS-SFL, COM DEV, MDA, Magellan Aerospace, Telesat and others, have provided components to various international space agencies.John H. Chapman Space Centre – Longueuil, Quebec
David Florida Laboratory – Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Space Agency Building – Innovation Place Research Park – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
A number of launch facilities have been used by the Canadian Space Agency and its predecessors:Fort Churchill, Manitoba (Canadian Army/NRC)
Cape Canaveral, Florida (NASA)
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (USAF)
Satish Dhawan Space Centre, India (ISRO)
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan (leased to Roscosmos and Russian Space Forces)
Dombarovsky ICBM Base, Russia (Russian Air Force)
Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia (Roscosmos)
With the successful launching of Radarsat-2 in December 2007 and completion of Canada's C$1.4 billion contribution to the International Space Station in early 2008, the CSA found itself with no major follow-on projects. This fact was highlighted by Marc Garneau, Canada's first astronaut and former head of the CSA who in the fall of 2007 called upon the Canadian government to develop and institute a space policy for Canada.
A modest step has been taken to resolve this problem. In November 2008, the Agency signed a $40 million 16-month contract with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates of Vancouver to begin the design of the RADARSAT Constellation (3 satellite) earth observation mission. In August 2010 further funding was awarded for detailed design work scheduled for completion by 2012. Launch of the three satellites is scheduled for 2018. Also in the 2009 Federal budget, the agency was awarded funding for the preliminary design of robotic Lunar/Martian rovers.
However, a number of initiatives are without funding. The CSA is the lead agency for the Polar Communication and Weather mission (PCW) which involves the planned launch of two satellites in polar orbit to provide Canadian authorities with improved weather information and communications capabilities in the high arctic. Launch of the two satellites is proposed to take place in 2016. Funding for further development of the mission has yet to be approved.
The Canadian Space Agency has no indigenous launch system capability beyond upper atmospheric sounding rockets. Canada relies on other countries, such as the U.S., India and Russia, to launch its spacecraft into orbit, but both the Defence Department and the space agency are looking at the option of constructing a Canadian-made launcher.
The CSA has been researching locations in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Fort Churchill, Manitoba, for a possible micro satellites (150 kg) launch site for the CSA, and end its reliance on foreign launch providers. However, Canadian politicians seldom change funding without having at least some idea of the expected economic, social and national defense benefits that could reasonably accrue to their constituents from the program. Another possible location, Canadian Forces Base Suffield, remains an option. According to Canadian Space Agency officials, it would take 10 to 12 years for a full-scale project to design and build a small satellite launcher. There is no funding for these activities yet.