Space Technology Development Program (STDP)

Space Technology Development Program (STDP)

Space Technology Development Program in numbers - Infographic

Space Technology Development Program (STDP)

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Infographic showing the investments in the Space Technology Development Program (STDP). (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

As the government's centre of technical expertise on space technologies and their applications, Space Technologies supports Research and Development activities in industry, in academia, and in CSA's own facilities to maintain world-class expertise in Canada.

One of the implementation elements employed by Space Technologies is the Space Technology Development Program (STDP). This program, which has been fine-tuned over the past decade, is highly regarded by the Canadian Space Industry as an effective and efficient means to provide initial funds for breakthrough technologies and to enhance the competitiveness and capabilities of the Industry as a whole.

In the last 10 years, the STDP has supported the development of over 50 novel technologies ranging from self-healing carbon fibre materials to automated vision systems enabling the inspection of the Space Shuttle.

Mandate and Objectives

The mandate of the STDP is:

  1. to formulate, implement, and manage R&D projects related to the development of Mission Enabling and Generic technologies to support future needs of the Canadian Space Program; and
  2. to support industrial capacity building through the development of new products/services, processes and know-how.

The STDP objectives are to:

  • Respond to the technological needs of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Branches;
  • Reduce the technological uncertainties associated with planned Canadian space missions;
  • Stimulate industrial innovation in space-related technologies in preparation for potential future missions; and
  • Strengthen the core capabilities of the Canadian space industry through industrial capacity building initiatives in order to maintain industrial readiness and competitiveness.

Roles and responsibilities

The STDP is responsible for:

  1. developing space technologies required to support future Canadian space missions; and
  2. strengthening the Canadian space sector through industrial capacity building efforts.

The development of space technologies required for future Canadian missions is contracted out to Canadian industry through a competitive process. For the contracting component of the program, STDP is responsible for providing financial and technical support to Canadian organizations (Industry and Academia) to perform R&D related to Mission Enabling and Generic Space Technologies.

The program's main input is a prioritized list of space technologies identified by each CSA branch. The technologies are identified in consultation with CSA's experts, OGD, Industry, and Academia through a continuous process fed by the requirements of future missions (whether they are at the concept level or in their early phases) as well as strategic positioning of key technologies for Canada originating from government of Canada needs, socio economic benefits, and industrial positioning.

The program implementation covers proposal solicitation (through regular Request for Proposals), evaluation, selection, and project management functions. The main outcomes related to technology development are to:

  • Address mission unknowns and uncertainties;
  • Reduce decision making risks with respect to cost, level of effort, schedule and/or feasibility of the mission;
  • Enable finalization of estimates required for internal (Executive Committee) or external (Treasury Board) approval;
  • Secure Canada's participation in international missions;
  • Achieve innovative and revolutionary improvements in technological performance; and
  • Attain independence from regulatory constraints (ex. ITAR).

The recently initiated industrial capacity building component of STDP is expected to be funded through contributions. STDP is responsible for strengthening the core capabilities of the Canadian space industry thereby increasing the industry's ability to respond to the future needs of the Canadian Space Program and to compete effectively in the global market. STDP promotes the entry of new industrial players with new capacities to effectively address national and international challenges in the space sector.

The program implementation covers identifying industrial capacity building needs, proposal solicitation (through regular Announcement of Opportunity postings) evaluating and selecting proposals that result in high-impact capacity building, and overseeing the implementation of the proposed initiative. The main outcomes related to industrial capacity building are to:

  • Increase knowledge related to overcoming challenges of space technologies;
  • Strengthen core capabilities of Canadian industry;
  • Foster innovation within Canadian industry so as to remain competitive in the global market; and
  • Improve industrial processes and infrastructure in order to increase productivity.