A controversial decision by Barack Obama to privatize the exploration of space could be a blessing for Canada’s aerospace industry, say experts in the field, who argue that this country’s space agency and its associated industries are in a prime position to hitch their wagon to the US president’s initiative on a ride toward the stars, Mars and potential riches, wrote The Calgary Herald Aug. 8:
“Obama’s vision for the future of NASA…is putting a lot of stock in the private sector,” says Paul Delaney, a professor of physics & astronomy in York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. “There have been a lot of groups that have been trying to position themselves to take advantage of what they see as a commercial opportunity in the coming decade. And I think they are right.”
Delaney says Obama’s vision is clear on what the next generation of space exploration vehicle should do: study near-Earth asteroids – and their potential wealth of resources – and get ready to go to Mars.
If industry can deliver on the “low-Earth orbit” side of space exploration, he says, such as the “taxi” activity of restocking the International Space Station, NASA will be free to pursue larger goals “of getting away from Earth entirely.”
But Canada ultimately stands to profit, Delaney says, pointing to our track record in robotics and space technology, which will be needed as the groundwork is laid for future travel. “There’s a good history here as far as developing space hardware, instrumentation,” he says. “I think you’re going to see stepped-up activity from Canadian industry to contribute in a more significant way.”
York has considerable space research capacity through the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science (CRESS) and the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Recently, one of York's space researchers was part of a team awarded a contract to develop instrumentation for asteroid mapping, funded by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.