Opportunities and Challenges for Canada in Space


October 17, 2018
Saskatoon, SK

MDA leaders outline opportunities and challenges for Canada in space at the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce

Saskatoon, SK – MDA, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), today shared that Canada’s role and potential involvement in the growing new space economy require a full commitment from the Government of Canada for a new space strategy that would secure Canada’s place as a leader in space, Mike Greenley, the Group President of MDA, said in a speech to the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. 

“We need a long-term, fully funded space plan for Canada that establishes the requisite funding to maintain and enhance our existing world-leading capabilities in AI-based space robotics, satellite communications, Earth observation and space science, while cultivating new areas of leadership. And we need it now, because there are pressing decisions that need to be made,” Greenley said.  

Greenley and Holly Johnson, the president’s business manager at MDA, made their presentation today in Saskatchewan to highlight the impact space has in the region, from Canadian Light Source Inc. to Calian SED Systems, a partner with MDA in the Don’t Let Go Canada campaign currently underway. 

Greenley and Johnson took advantage of their time in Saskatchewan to discuss MDA Launchpad, the company’s initiative to bring more Canadians companies on board the space industry. MDA has tasked senior leaders to deal with small- to medium-sized enterprises looking to collaborate with MDA. The senior partner leader within MDA is then tasked to suggest ways of working together inside both MDA and Maxar to bring best-in-class ideas to the organization.

The most urgent question facing Canada is whether the country will participate in the international space community’s next big exploration project. As governments wind down their investments in the International Space Station, the leading spacefaring regions and nations, including the United States, Europe, Japan and Russia, are planning a return to the Moon in the 2020s. NASA is planning to build a small space station that orbits the Moon, which will serve as a base for lunar exploration, a platform for science experiments, and a gateway to explore deeper space.  

Canada’s commitment would involve the development of a third-generation Canadarm, the iconic Canadian space robotics technology featured prominently on the five dollar bill. Canadian space robotics would provide highly visible, innovative and critical Lunar Gateway operations, including the assembly of the Gateway itself (and its ongoing maintenance), the capture of visiting spacecraft, and the enabling of science conducted in the lunar vicinity. Given the distance to the Moon, these advanced space robotics would need to operate autonomously, powered by Canadian AI technology. Subsequent contributions could involve lunar rovers and space medicine technology. 

“The international community expects Canada to participate in this mission and to provide the advanced robotics systems for the Lunar Gateway, our area of expertise that no other country does better,” noted Johnson. “It is Canada’s role for the taking.”

“Making a commitment to participate in the Lunar Gateway as part of the upcoming space strategy would maintain and enhance Canada’s acknowledged world leadership in space robotics and signal to the world that Canada plans to claim its place in the new space economy,” Greenley added. “The value of the global space market reached US$380 billion in 2017, and analysts forecast it will grow to be a multi-trillion-dollar market in the coming decades.” 

“It is important for Canada to have an active role in space exploration. Not only to challenge the intellectual growth of our nation but to open new economic opportunities that can be found in space,” said Patrick Thera, president of Calian SED, “We have an opportunity here to be part of a global space strategy and we look for opportunities to contribute our skills in space ground systems, communications and test infrastructure in the execution of these strategies.” 

MDA, Calian SED and other partners in the coalition are spending this fall talking to Canadians and elected officials about the importance of space. 

Help support the #DontLetGoCanada coalition by sending an email to your MP and signing the e-petition.