A short history of David Florida Laboratory


The year 1971 marked the start of an ambitious project in the Canadian Space Program which was to design and build an experimental high power, high frequency (Ku-Band), communications satellite to demonstrate the potential of direct-to-home broadcasting. The Communications Technology Satellite, renamed HERMES, was a joint effort between Canada, which supplied the satellite and the United States, which supplied the high power travelling wave tube amplifier and launch services. HERMES was successfully launched on January 17, 1976, aboard a three stage, Delta 2916 rocket. Although designed for a two year lifetime, the satellite operated for almost four years and contributed materially to the advancement of Canadian capabilities in space.

While demonstrating new communications capabilities and services, the HERMES Program would advance Canadian industrial expertise in the design and manufacture of satellites and satellite subsystems. In support of those objectives, the Government of Canada built a facility in Ottawa that would be capable of supporting the environmental testing needs of satellite subsystems. The facility was named the David Florida Laboratory (DFL) in honour of the late C. David Florida, Manager of the HERMES Program. The DFL was built as part of the Communications Research Centre (CRC) site which had been given the responsibility for the development of the HERMES spacecraft.

Evolving with client needs

Officially opened in September 1972, the DFL consisted of a single high bay clean room integration and storage area, a series of small thermal vacuum chambers, a 53 kN (12 k lbf) vibration table, a 6 x 6 x 6 m (20 x 20 x 20 ft) anechoic chamber, and office space.

From that modest beginning, the DFL has become Canada's national facility for spacecraft assembly, integration, and test. It is a world class, full service, environmental test facility capable of qualifying the world's most advanced space systems.