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Building a satellite... then a company

For the past five years, 15 teams of faculty and students across Canada have been working with collaborators from industry, academia and government to design, build and launch their own miniature satellite, as part of the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA's) Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP).

Everything you always wanted to know about CubeSats. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA, University of Alberta)

Among them, the Dalhousie University team successfully deployed their CubeSat (LORIS) from the International Space Station (ISS) in . LORIS is now operational and will soon start its scientific mission.

Written in the stars: Arad Gharagozli's journey

Arad Gharagozli has been an active, prominent member of the Dalhousie University team from the beginning. He came to see the CCP not only as a student project but also from a start-up angle.

Arad Gharagozli

Arad Gharagozli. (Credits: Arad Gharagozli, Dalhousie University)

As per Arad's own words: taking part in the CCP confirmed he wanted to build a career for himself in the space sector.

"CCP enabled myself and so many others to experience something that otherwise would be almost impossible to materialize; it was the boost that we needed to actually bring ideas into reality in the world of space innovation, which is challenging to navigate both technologically and financially. Without CCP, many of these ideas would have remained just that – an idea – and most students would have ended up in other industries. One the most important aspects of CCP is the community it created. An ecosystem of incredibly talented and motivated professionals and experts, both from industry and academia, came together to work on something they all deeply love, and that is space exploration. When you have such a powerful community, anything is possible, and I'm very much excited about the future of our space industry because of it."

The results now speak for themselves: by bringing the expertise and talent of the CubeSat team to local businesses, Arad has helped build a growing space sector in Canada's Maritime provinces. He has found the inspiration and energy to develop initiatives that have become a must for Maritime youth interested in all things space-related.

The CCP was also a determining factor in Arad's decision to found GALAXIA Mission Systems Inc. (GALAXIA), a small company that is already positioning itself as a key player of the space industry in the Maritimes.

A bright future ahead

The CSA recently awarded a $1.7 million contribution to GALAXIA to carry a demonstration for its Möbius Constellation. This satellite constellation, the first software-defined Earth observation (EO) platform will host an array of powerful and versatile space sensors on a shared-access basis.

GALAXIA aims to make space more accessible and affordable for SMEs. Its new EO solution could help businesses of any size to enter the space sector, with applications in industries such as environment and agriculture monitoring, maritime activities, infrastructure management and transportation.

"Our mission is to solve problems on Earth from space by developing the most advanced, efficient, and powerful space computation systems in the world. We are bringing a sophisticated ecosystem of modern computation to space and putting it into the hands of small-to-medium sized businesses who have traditionally faced significant barriers to access.

We have established our first flight heritage, and this is only the beginning. We are proud to represent Canada on this global race and lead this segment of our industry for years to come."

The CSA's financial support for the development of this technology was allocated through its Space Technology Development Program.

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