Kate HowellsSep 08, 2017

Upward bound: Canada's Space Advisory Board provides its recommendations

The Planetary Society is pleased to share good news about developments in Canadian space policy. The Canadian government's Space Advisory Board, formed in 2017 to guide the nation's space strategy, has provided a clear set of recommendations to advance Canada's space program. With this guidance, Canada will be better equipped to work toward understanding, exploring, and developing space. The Planetary Society is proud to have a role in the creation of these recommendations.

When Canada's Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development appointed the Space Advisory Board earlier this year, their first step was to launch a series of consultations with stakeholders in the Canadian space program.

Over the course of a single month, the Space Advisory Board held seven roundtable-style consultations in different parts of the country, and two virtual discussions to engage youth and people throughout Canada's northern territories. Participants represented various facets of the space sector, including industry, academia, nonprofits, provincial governments, investors, and others. The Planetary Society was invited to participate and provide our perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian space program.

This August, the Space Advisory Board released a report detailing the core recommendations that resulted from their consultations.

This report makes it clear that although Canada has had a very successful space program in the past, the country is now in danger of losing its ability to pursue ambitious and important space activities due to inadequate funding and outdated federal policies. The challenges facing Canada's space program are complex, but in the Space Advisory Board's consultations the Canadian space community demonstrated that there are solutions.

The core recommendation was that the Canadian government should designate the space sector as a national strategic asset, deeming it essential to Canada's sovereignty, security, and economic growth—similar to defence, shipbuilding, and other existing national strategic assets. This government-wide support would provide the space program with the stability and funding it needs to embark on ambitious projects, partner with the commercial sector, and collaborate internationally.

The Space Advisory Board's report detailed other recommendations including:

  • adapting government policies and regulations to respond to new space industries;

  • strengthening Canada's key capabilities in space;

  • maintaining balanced programs with sustainable, predictable funding; and

  • conducting extensive outreach and public education activities.

The recommendations ended with an urgent call to action, stressing that a space strategy should be immediately established if Canada is going to retain its role in international missions and attract the space leaders of tomorrow.

As a global organization, one of The Planetary Society's goals is to advance space science and exploration worldwide. We have a strong advocacy program in the United States and regularly see the results of our work there, and we are taking steps toward having a stronger voice in Canada.

We were honoured to be invited to participate in the Space Advisory Board's consultations, and we celebrate the Canadian government's decision to engage with stakeholders in this way. Wise leaders seek the insight of those they lead, and Canada's Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is doing just that. This is a very positive step forward for Canada, and we expect to see a stronger space program in the coming years - which means more exploration, more science, and more discoveries.

The Planetary Society is also very happy to see that our recommendation to restore the Canadian Space Agency's education and public outreach activities was echoed by other stakeholders, and was incorporated into the Board's key recommendations. This is The Planetary Society's first concrete achievement in Canadian space advocacy and we do not expect it to be the last.

We strongly support the recommendations of the Space Advisory Board, and look forward to the implementation process. The Space Advisory Board plans to continue its consultations with the Canadian public and you can be sure that The Planetary Society will have a seat at the table.

The Planetary Fund

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