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Flights for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST 2013)

Announcement of Opportunity

Publication date: November 8, 2013

Application deadline: December 20, 2013

Canada Invests in Training the Next-Generation of Space Innovators

Funding has been awarded to train and develop Canadian graduate students through ten space science and technology projects led by six Canadian universities.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. AO Objectives and Outcomes
  3. Eligibility Criteria
  4. Applications and AO Closing Date
  5. Evaluation
  6. Funding
  7. Funding Agreements
  8. Privacy Notice Statement
  9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  10. Appendix A Scoring and Weighting

1. Introduction

The objective of the Flights for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to provide grants to Canadian universities in support of research projects that offer hands-on opportunities to graduate students and consists in building or modifying scientific instruments or technologies, as well as flying them on suborbital platforms and conducting data analysis.

Building Canadian capacity in space science and technology is a priority for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Canada must develop and maintain a robust and experienced workforce within industry, academia, and government in order to continue playing an active role in future space missions. One way to build this capacity is to provide training opportunities for Canadian highly qualified personnel (HQP) who are interested in space science and technology development. These individuals are ideally positioned to capitalize on new ideas and technologies developed in Canada and abroad. By contributing to the advancement of knowledge and technology development, they will enhance Canada's future competitiveness and productivity in the space sector.

Given the limited opportunities, considerable costs and high risks of providing access to space platforms, such as full-fledge satellites or the International Space Station (ISS), there is a need for funding research projects involving alternative platforms such as nanosatellites, CubeSats, sounding rockets, stratospheric balloons, Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (SRLVs) or aircraft. Such platforms provide university students with unique educational opportunities in which they can obtain practical experience in projects related to and become involved in all aspects of space-based mission experiments.

Since the mission life cycle of research projects using these suborbital platforms corresponds more closely to the length of time required to complete a Master's, PhD or Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) program, students have a better chance of acquiring hands-on experience prior to entering the Canadian job market.

This AO is also consistent with the terms and conditions of the CSA Class Grant and Contribution Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component (G&C Program).

Applicants are asked to read the following AO thoroughly before submitting their applications. This AO has been prepared to help applicants complete the application process, and outlines key elements, including mandatory criteria for eligibility, details on eligible projects and the selection process. In the event of any discrepancies between this AO and the individual funding agreements governing a project or projects, the latter document(s) will take precedence.

2. AO Objectives and Outcomes

The CSA's objective with this AO is to provide grants for activities that require access to space and suborbital flights in order to develop HQP, and consist in conducting scientific research or in demonstrating, simulating, testing or validating technologies.

2.1 Objectives

The objectives of this AO, which are linked to the CSA Grant and Contribution Program objectives, are as follows:

2.2 AO Outcomes

This AO is expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

These outcomes are consistent with the CSA's Program Activity Architecture (PAA) and the CSA Research Priorities (Section 3.3). Specifically, this AO will provide scientists and engineers (particularly HQP) with opportunities to conduct space science projects and/or to test space technology in priority areas. It will also enable them to prepare to participate in future space missions while developing their skills and acquiring new scientific and technical knowledge, thus helping to ensure the strategic and sustained utilization of space in Canada (CSA PAA 1.3).

3. Eligibility Criteria

3.1 Eligible Recipients

For the purposes of this AO, eligible recipients are limited to Canadian universities.

3.2 Eligible Projects and Training Activities

To be eligible, it is mandatory that a project include a planned space and/or suborbital flight and HQP training activities. Proposed projects must be related to the space science and/or technology research disciplines described in Section 3.3. While end-to-end projects are strongly encouraged, an eligible project may be related to any phase of a space mission but it must include a planned flight.

An end-to-end project usually includes the following activities:

All development phases necessary for a typical space mission are eligible. Any logical combination or breakdown of these phases can constitute a funded project, but the project must include a planned flight. However, breaking down a project into numerous phases to obtain more than the maximum grant is not allowed. Furthermore, even if the maximum funding for one project is not reached, the completion of a funded phase does not automatically guarantee funding of the remaining phases.

Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

3.3 Links to the CSA Priorities

Projects for which this AO will provide support must contribute to the achievement of the CSA Space Expertise and Proficiency sub-program activity (PAA 1.3.1):

This Sub-Program activity includes the development and enhancement of Canada's space capacity. This Sub-Program supports research in private or public organizations and sustains the development of HQP in science and engineering. We encourage scientists and engineers to perform relevant development activities in space science and technology, and to develop their know-how by offering them financial support to sustain their research project and access to infrastructure devoted to world class research and training, among which fast execution and small size missions offer frequent flight opportunity. This Sub-Program is necessary to create and sustain a pool of space expertise and proficiency that will form the next generation of space professionals and workers and to provide solutions for future Canadian space endeavours. This Sub-Program is delivered with the participation of funding agencies, Government of Canada (GoC) organizations, foreign space agencies and not-for-profit organizations. This collaborative effort is formalized under grants, contributions or national and international partnership. Source: CSA Report on Plans and Priorities (2013-14 Estimates).

More specifically, to be eligible, projects for which this AO provides support must provide hands-on training experience to HQP focusing on one or more of the following research disciplines:

3.4 Targeted HQP

Selected projects will provide a defined training experience to HQP, including:

Undergraduate students in final-year projects may be part of the proposed project as future graduate students. Proposals focusing only on the training of undergraduate students will not be considered.

Undergraduate student participation in final-year projects and summer projects is an important first phase or step in research training and plays a major role in encouraging promising students to pursue research careers. For technicians and other individuals holding long-term positions, the acquisition of new skills and knowledge are important contributions to their training. The inclusion of these two elements in a project will be viewed favourably by the CSA.

The range of research and training projects for which this AO provides support will include graduate students working on their theses to postdoctoral level research, as well as research and development conducted by technical and other research personnel. The level and content of training should be appropriate to the research discipline, whether it is related to science or engineering, and should include opportunities for interaction and collaboration with other researchers inside and outside the organization, where appropriate.

In collaborative research activities involving non-university partners, such as industry, HQP training may be enhanced by exposure to an industrial or government work environment. Similarly, industry personnel may benefit from being involved in academic research. The CSA strongly encourages such collaborative research activities involving academia, industry, and foreign researchers.

The fact that an applicant has trained, is training, or plans to train students, technicians, or postdoctoral fellows, is not a sufficient rationale for awarding a grant. A researcher's contribution to the proposed training activities will be assessed in terms of its quality and impact, and not solely in terms of the number of people supervised.

3.5 Skills to be Acquired by HQP

Proposals must include a detailed training plan that outlines how hands-on experience will enable HQP to develop some or all of the following skills:

3.6 Eligible Research Platforms

The following platforms will be considered for the implementation of projects, either in Canada or abroad:

4. Applications and AO Closing Date

4.1 Required documentation

The application must include the following:

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that his/her application complies with all relevant federal, provincial and territorial legislation and municipal bylaws.

Applications must be mailed to the CSA at the following address:

c/o France Bolduc
Science & Technology Programs
Space Science & Technology
Canadian Space Agency
6767, route de l'Aéroport
Saint-Hubert, Québec J3Y 8Y9

Applicants must also take note of the following:

Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA Web site in the FAQ of this AO (see Section 9). The CSA will answer questions received before December 13, 2013 New!.

4.2 Service Standards for this AO – Complete Applications

Applicants will be notified in writing of decisions regarding their application. Selected applications will be announced on the CSA website. The CSA has set the following service standards for delays in processing requests, acknowledgements of receipt, funding decisions and payment procedures.

Acknowledgement: The CSA's goal is to acknowledge receipt of proposals within two weeks of receiving the completed application package.

Decision: The CSA's goal is to respond to the proposal within 14 weeks of the AO's closing date and to send a grant agreement for signature within four weeks after formal approval of the proposal.

Payment: The CSA's goal is to issue payment within 4 weeks of the successful fulfillment of the requirements outlined in the grant agreement.

Compliance with these service standards is a shared responsibility. Applicants must submit all required documentation in a timely fashion.

5. Evaluation

5.1 Eligibility Criteria

An eligible proposal will be one that:

5.2 Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria. Their respective scores and weights are detailed in Appendix A.

5.3 Evaluation Process

5.3.1 Pre-screening Process

The CSA will conduct a preliminary screening of the proposals received to ensure that they comply with the eligibility criteria (Section 3), funding restrictions (Section 6.1) and application requirements (Section 4.1). Applicants MUST fill out Section 4 of the Application Form (Pre-screening Criteria).  Only applications that have passed the pre-screening process will be given further consideration.

5.3.2 Evaluation Process

Once the pre-screening process is completed, evaluators will assess the screened applications according to the criteria listed in Section 5.2 and detailed at Annex A. Evaluators will be experts in fields relevant to the applications and may include representatives of Canada and other countries, and representatives of other government and non-government agencies and organizations. If applicable, a multidisciplinary evaluation committee will be formed when applications from several different disciplines are competing in order to provide a uniform final score and ranking of proposals.

Before a final decision is made, the CSA's Program Manager responsible for this AO may seek input and advice from other organizations, including (but not limited to) federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government agencies and organizations.

To determine the amount of funding to be allocated, consideration will be given to the availability of CSA funds, the total cost of the project, as well as the other confirmed sources of funds provided by other stakeholders and the applicant.

6. Funding

6.1 Available Funding and Duration

Funding agreements will cover a period of up to three years to allow successful applicants (recipients) to complete their training and project objectives.

The level of funding will vary depending on the type of project proposed. There are two categories of funding. One proposal per category will be allowed for each identified Principal Investigator (PI).

The maximum amount of funding that the CSA will provide for a single project will vary depending on the space and suborbital platforms to be used, and the CSA's available budget. The CSA may propose a reduced amount for any requested grant.

Before each installment, the Program Manager will reassess the recipient's eligibility according to the expected results stated in the recipient's proposal. The duration of proposed projects may not exceed two or three years, depending on funding categories A and B as specified above, unless the CSA agrees otherwise, or to allow a second flight. Grant agreements may be amended following a careful review of progress reports, a proposal for project continuation, and a risk analysis that takes the new requested termination date into account. Following a flight described in its proposal, a recipient could be entitled to re-fly its payload during an additional flight campaign, if it is deemed required and is justified. The grant agreement would then be amended under the same terms and conditions of those set out in the original grant agreement, but here would be no additional grant of funding from the CSA.

The number of projects funded under this AO will depend on funding availability. For instance, current available budget could fund the following number of projects:

The CSA reserves the right to not accept any proposals or to reduce the amount for categories A and B. Approved proposals will be eligible for a total amount of government assistance (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) of up to 100% of total project costs.

Recipients must identify all sources of funding in their applications and confirm this information in a funding agreement if the project is selected for funding. Upon completion of a project, the applicant must also disclose all sources of funding. To determine the amount of financial support it will offer, the CSA will consider the total project cost as well as funding obtained by the applicant from other organizations/sources.

Given the objectives of this AO and the limited available budget, a PI may only submit one proposal per funding category in response to this AO (although an institution may apply more than once). Multiple submissions from a PI cannot be for the same project. However, two or more PIs can apply separately for the same project if each targets different development phases, but the aggregate funds requested by these PIs cannot exceed the funding limits mentioned above.

6.2 Eligible Costs

Eligible costs are direct expenses associated with the delivery of the approved project and that are required to achieve the expected results of the project. Eligible costs for a grant can include one or a combination of the following:

6.3 Potential Access to Foreign Suborbital Platforms

Through this AO, the CSA is soliciting proposals related to the use of the suborbital platforms mentioned in Section 3.6. However, applicants may take advantage of several flight opportunities, which are outlined in the following sections.

6.3.1 Potential Access to Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) Stratospheric Balloons

In 2010, the CSA entered into a 10-year agreement with the France's CNES. Under this agreement, the CSA will develop and operate for CNES a mid-latitude facility for launching balloons in Canada (Timmins, Ontario). In exchange, CNES will fly and operate balloons every year for Canada CSA from different locations in the world where CNES conducts balloon campaigns.

This collaboration with CNES will allow Canada to benefit from CNES technology and expertise, thus maximizing the probability of safe and successful flights, significant scientific findings, while reducing the overall cost to Canadians. According to the CNES/CSA Implementing Agreement, the CSA will be entitled to the following:

In the case of primary payloads, the recipient will fly the payload on its dedicated gondola. Neither CNES nor the CSA will be responsible for providing such a gondola, including pointing systems and/or gondola sub-systems (such as power and communication systems). However, CNES will provide the telemetry and telecommunications system (TM/TC-SIREN) that will allow the payload communications system to download data to the ground. Information on the TM/TC-SIREN system is available upon request.

In the case of secondary payloads, the recipient must provide a self-contained payload that will not interfere with the European primary payload, unless the secondary payload is part of a pre-established international collaboration project in which the European PI has confirmed access to a CNES balloon flight opportunity.

Once a grant is obtained, for any CNES balloon flights, the recipient must fill out a questionnaire providing additional information on its payload and the flight requirements. The recipient will subsequently be responsible for ensuring its payload and its gondola (if appropriate) is ready on time and meets safety and interface requirements, which are outlined in user's manuals and are available upon request. The CSA will carry out an internal technology assessment several months before a CNES balloon campaign to confirm whether or not a proposed payload is ready as planned. The CSA will do its utmost to fly all FAST grant recipient payloads that meet the CSA Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA), interface and schedule requirements, and are compatible with CNES balloon campaign plans and schedule. However, the CSA cannot guarantee a flight at the location, period of the year or time of day stated in a recipient's proposal.

Applicants interested in utilizing a CNES balloon flight must clearly state so in their application and provide information on their payload as well as their flight preferences (such as period of the year for a flight, launch site and the expected support required by CNES and the CSA).

CNES usually confirms the location where a balloon campaign takes place approximately one year before the campaign. The CNES balloon launch sites for 2015 and 2016 are:

6.3.2 Potential Access to NASA Suborbital Platforms

From time to time, NASA will post Announcements of Opportunity offering access to various suborbital platforms to US and non-US organizations through the NASA Flight Opportunity Program (FOP). According to NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, selected technologies will travel to the edge of space and back on US commercial suborbital vehicles and platforms, providing opportunities for testing them before they are sent to work in the space environment. Since the CSA has no specific agreements with NASA regarding the FOP, it is the responsibility of Canadian researchers to meet all of the requirements of the NASA program and cover the associated costs. Therefore, a FAST grant recipient who intends to fly a payload on US commercial suborbital vehicles will have to carefully assess the risk of not potentially being able to secure a flight on such platforms. Additional information on the FOP can be found on the following web site:

The CSA has no responsibility for flight opportunities that NASA may offer.

As described on the FOP Web site, eligible suborbital platforms are the following:

6.3.3 Student Access to Sounding-Rocket, Balloon and Cubesat Launches through the European Space Agency (ESA)

As a Cooperating State of the ESA, Canada and therefore, Canadian students, may be eligible for ESA Education Programs. For more information, visit the following Website:

Moreover, through ESA and under a bilateral agreement between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB), Canadian students have access to the REXUS/BEXUS program, which allows students from universities and higher education colleges across Europe and Canada to conduct scientific and technological experiments on research rockets and balloons. Two rockets and two balloons are launched each year, carrying up to 20 experiments designed and built by student teams. REXUS experiments are launched on an unguided, spin-stabilized rocket powered by an Improved Orion motor with 290 kg of solid propellant. It is capable of taking 40 kg of student experiment modules to an altitude of approximately 90 km. The vehicle has a length of approx. 5.6 m and a body diameter of 35.6 cm. BEXUS experiments are lifted by a balloon with a volume of 12,000  to a maximum altitude of 30 km, depending on total experiment mass (40-100 kg). The flight duration is two to five hours. EuroLaunch, a joint venture involving the Esrange Space Center of the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of DLR, is responsible for campaign management and operations of the launch vehicles. Experts provide student teams with technical support throughout the project. REXUS and BEXUS are launched from the SSC's Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden. The REXUS/BEXUS 2014/15 Call for Proposals is open and the deadline for application is October 21, 2013. Additional information can be obtained at:

7. Funding Agreements

7.1 Payments

The CSA and each successful applicant (the recipient) will sign a funding agreement, which is a condition for any payment made by the CSA with respect to the approved project. Payments will be made in a lump sum or in installments as described in the signed agreement. Grant funding agreements will include a clause stipulating the recipient's obligation to confirm—once a year in the case of multi-year agreements—their eligibility for this G&C Program – Research Component and inform the CSA in writing of any changes to the conditions used in determining their entitlement to and eligibility for to this component.

7.2 Conflict of interest

In the funding agreement, the recipient will certify that any former public office holder or public servant it employs complies with the provisions of the relevant Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Former Public Office Holders and the Value and Ethics Code for Public Servants respectively.

7.3 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property developed by the recipient in the course of the project shall vest in the recipient.
When applicable, the funding agreement will include a provision granting to the CSA a non-exclusive, irrevocable, world-wide, free and royalty-free license in perpetuity to use or sub-license the use of any such intellectual property contained in the recipient's reports for non-commercial governmental purposes.

7.4 Organizations in Québec

An organization in Quebec whose operations are partially or fully funded by the province of Quebec may be subject to the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif, L.R.Q., chapter M-30. Under sections 3.11 and 3.12 of this Act, certain entities/organizations, as defined in the meaning of this Act, such municipal bodies, school bodies, or public agencies, must obtain an authorization by the Secrétariat aux affaires intergouvernementales canadiennesdu Québec (SAIC), as indicated by this Act, before signing any funding agreement with the GoC, its departments or agencies, or a federal public agency. Consequently, any entity that is subject to this Act is responsible for obtaining such authorization before signing any funding agreement with the GoC.

Quebec applicants must complete, sign and include the M-30 Supporting Documentation Form with their application.

7.5 Performance Measurement

The CSA will ask recipients to report on certain aspects of their projects, such as:




8. Privacy Notice Statement

The CSA will comply with the federal Access to Information Act and Privacy Act with respect to applications received. By submitting personal information, an applicant is consenting to its collection, use and disclosure of that information in accordance with the following Privacy Notice Statement which explains how the applicant's information will be managed.

Necessary measures have been taken to protect the confidentiality of the information provided by the applicant. This information is collected under the authority of the CSA Class Grant and Contribution Program in order to support for the Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology - Research Component, and will be used for the evaluation and selection of proposals. Personal information (such as contact information, biographical information, etc) included in the rejected proposals will be stored in a CSA Personal Information Bank for 5 years and then destroyed (Personal Information File no. ASC PPU045). Personal information included in the successful proposals will be kept, along with the results of their proposals for historical purposes. These data are protected under the Privacy Act. According to the Privacy Act, the data linked to an individual and included in the proposal being evaluated can be accessed by the specific concerned individual who has rights with respect to this information. This individual may, upon request, (1) be given access to his/her data and (2) have incorrect information corrected or have a notation attached.

Applicants should note that for all agreements over $25 000, information related to the funding agreement (amount, grant or contribution, name of the recipient and project location) will be made available to the public on the CSA web site.

For additional information on privacy matter prior to submitting a proposal, please contact:

Danielle Bourgie,
Coordinator, Access to Information and Privacy
Canadian Space Agency
Telephone: (450) 926-4866

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

It is the responsibility of the applicants to obtain clarification of the requirements contained herein, if necessary, before submitting an application. At any point in the process, applicants are invited to share with the CSA their comments or suggestions regarding the AO, the program, or the process. Applicants may use the anonymous web-based Comments and Suggestions Box available at:

For any questions related to the AO, applicants may either use the web-based Comments and Suggestion Box or the email address ( Both methods are anonymous. Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the "FAQ" section of this AO. The CSA will respond to questions received before 5:00 p.m. (EST), December 13, 2013 New!.

Question 1: Would you please elaborate more on the requirement of "planned flight"? Since the FAST grant does not include launching, does it mean that a proof of secured funds for launch is required?

Answer 1: A planned flight means that the PI has indicated in the work breakdown structure the flight of an instrument or technology during the period covered by the grant agreement. It is not necessary to have secured funding, nor is it necessary to have written confirmation that the flight will take place on the planned date. Some suborbital platform operators are unable to confirm at the present time if a flight campaign might take place in 2015 or 2016. Moreover, a grant awarded through this AO could be used to support the cost of launcher services.

Question 2: I am interested in applying for this FAST grant. Here are my questions:

  1. I plan to work with Canadian company X to continue the development of payload Y through this grant, if successful. Company X has developed Y which requires modifications prior to flight testing. My team will work on Y. Is this project in line with this FAST opportunity?
  2. We want to fly our Y payload on a balloon platform as a secondary payload. If our project is funded, can we assume that we can have access to CNES Stratospheric Balloons? 
  3. I would like to call to ask more questions, please give me the right number/person I should contact.

Answer 2:

  1. Yes, this type of project corresponds to the main objective of the FAST AO, which is to develop highly qualified personnel by having them work on a payload. However, if the proposed project does not include a planned flight to: (a) test or validate a payload, or (b) collect data from a payload during the period covered by the grant agreement, then the project is not eligible.
  2. Yes, but the payload must first meet all CSA and CNES safety and technical requirements. Once these requirements are met, the CSA must then fit all planned flights within the CNES balloon campaign schedule.
  3. Unfortunately, we are not permitted to interact directly with interested applicants before the AO closing date. All questions must therefore be submitted through the Q&A process.

Question 3: I would like to enquire about the eligibility requirements for the FAST 2013 AO. I am the President of the Canadian X, a federally-registered not-for-profit organization. The X offers and manages Y, a Canada-wide competition for university teams to design and build a 3U Cubesat satellite. The satellites incorporate one or more science payloads which contribute to research at the team's (or another) university, or in partnership with a company.

Y has been in operation since 2011, and is currently in the second iteration of the competition, with 10 teams participating from across Canada.

X has received financial and in-kind support from many Canadian space companies, as well as from other national and international sources.

X provides an outstanding educational experience for the participating students, and has an impressive record of achieving the objectives and desired outcomes of the FAST AO. Although X is not itself a university, it directly (and exclusively) benefits the Canadian universities which participate in the Y.

Accordingly, I would respectfully enquire if we would be considered an eligible applicant to the FAST AO 2013.

Answer 3: No, only Canadian universities are eligible to the FAST AO 2013.

Question 4: For this AO, are current grant recipients of the FAST AO 2011 encouraged to apply (for supplementary funds), or is this AO intended for new recipients?

Answer 4: Recipients of a grant from the FAST AO 2011 can apply to the FAST AO 2013 under one of the two funding categories mentioned in Section 6.1. To be eligible for funding under category A, a project must include either the development of a new payload or a significant improvement to an existing payload in order to render it ready for flight. For funding under category B, a payload must either already have flown or be ready to fly with little improvements made to it.

Question 5: Regarding Pre-Screening Criterion #3 in the Application Form.


The instrument that I am developing is compatible with testing on a nanosatellite or Cubesat. However, I have tentatively arranged for a flight test of the instrument on another spacecraft that aims to launch within the targeted period (a X mission), which is neither a nanosat nor a Cubesat (it is a X mission).

The characteristics of that mission are peculiarly suitable for fully testing the performance of the instrument, over its intended range of operating conditions; while most other nanosat or Cubesat flight test opportunities would only be able to support a partial test of the instrument.

Pre-screening Criterion #3 does not have a tick-box that covers this flight test opportunity.

Would this AO extend to supporting this instrument development and flight-test?

Note: the project meets all of the other pre-screening criteria, and my self-evaluation of this project against the "Scoring and Weighting" criteria show a project score of close to 100. So it would be very good to hear that the proposal wouldn't be rejected due to wanting to fly on an already-arranged, flight, instead of on a nanosat!

Answer 5: For the FAST AO 2013, payloads must fly on the platforms listed in Section 3.6.

Question 6: My current FAST 2011 grant for project X officially started on Sept 1, 2012.  I'll need a 3-year extension starting Sept 1, 2015.  I guess this is too early to apply now, although if only offered every 2 years, what should I do? Is the starting date flexible? E.g., could it be Sept 1, 2015? In fact, would X still be eligible?

Answer 6: Projects funded through the FAST AO 2013 must start no later than during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Moreover, the project proposed must include a planned flight.

Question 7: I am interested in the FAST program. I have a few questions after reading the AO. Can you kindly direct me to:

  1. the list of previous selections, and
  2. the list of future balloon/aircraft opportunities.

Answer 7:

  1. See the following link:
  2. Other than the information provided in the FAST AO 2013, we do not have a list of future balloon/aircraft opportunities at this time.

Question 8: Does the Application Form constitute the proposal itself? If not, and if a separate document from the application form is required as a proposal, what are its requirements?

Answer 8: Yes, the Application Form constitutes the proposal itself. However, this form must be accompanied by all the documents listed in Section 4.1 of the AO.

Question 9: Under the evaluation criteria in Appendix A, section 2.1 indicates that to achieve an "excellent score", the "ratio of HQP to the total project budget is considerable".

Generally, the pro-rated cost of the parent mission is listed as an in-kind contribution when provided for free by an international collaborator. Since this in-kind contribution contributes to the total project budget, larger scale, and hence more expensive parent missions (e.g., large scientific sounding rocket campaigns) would therefore make it more difficult to score an excellent in this criteria compared to small, low-cost platforms (e.g., meteorological balloons).

Could you confirm that this is indeed the intention? Alternatively, would it make more sense to use the total CSA contribution rather than the total project budget?

Answer 9: For criterion 2.1, evaluators will not consider the payload launch cost in the calculation of the HQP-to-budget ratio. For example, a project with a total cost of $450,000 involving 3 HQP to develop and fly a payload on a balloon, for which the launch cost is $300,000, will have a HQP-to-budget ratio of 3/$150,000.

Question 10: In reviewing the 2013 FAST AO, we have noticed that there are no provisions for Administrative, Overhead or indirect charges. For the previous FAST AO, as well as for the recent GO Canada AO, there were provisions for 20% and 10%, respectively. Can you please clarify what percentage of Overhead is allowed in responses to this AO?

Answer 10: Overhead is not an eligible expense under this AO.

Question 11: In this application form, we noticed that in different places, we are instructed to provide a budget broken down per calendar year (CY).

This seems a bit strange to us as we have never engaged with CSA on CY basis and have always engaged on a FY basis instead.

Our questions are the following:

  1. Do you really intend us to submit a budget on a CY basis?
  2. What should we assume as a start date for the grant?
  3. Given that it is highly unlikely that funds will be in place on January 1, 2014, will we get a maximum of 36 months (for $250k proposals) or 24 months (for $80k proposals) from the actual start date of the grant? That is (in the case of a $250k proposal), if the funding starts April 1, 2014, will we have until March 31, 2017 (i.e. 36 months) to complete the project, or will we only have until December 31, 2016 as your Application Form suggests (i.e. 36 months minus 3 month start delay = 33 months)?

Answer 11:

  1. Yes.
  2. We expect to make the first payment in March/April 2014.
  3. Grant agreements will cover a three or two-year period depending on the selected funding category (A or B).

Question 12: I would like ask for a clarification of the FAST proposal. On the online webpage, it isn't clear if we need to provide our own power / communication for a piggyback secondary payload for a CNES launch.

Answer 12: Secondary payloads are opportunity-based; their launch is a function of the volume, mass and power available on a given gondola. Secondary payloads should therefore assume that, until a specific platform has been identified, they will have to provide their own power. Regarding telecommunications, all gondolas flying with the CNES balloon system (NOSYCA) can use the provided Telecommunication & Telemetry Control (TT&C) SIREN module, which is available to all payloads. However, please note that in the case of secondary payloads, the total bandwidth allocation must be shared by all of the instruments mounted onboard a given gondola. Payloads may also be equipped with their own TT&C system. However, FAST grantees would then be responsible for demonstrating their system's radio frequency is compatible with NOSYCA. FAST grantees are also responsible for all associated radio communication licenses. Finally, note that all flight hardware is typically recovered within 3 days after landing, thereby permitting the use of on-board memory for larger sets of data rather than real-time telemetry.

Question 13: Is CSA/CNES doing both day and night launches? As we are thinking of a UV instrument, we need night time observations to avoid the residual Rayleigh scattering.

Answer 13: Yes. CNES and CSA will try to accommodate, as much as possible, the required flight profile (including launch time) requested by the user.

Question 14: Can you clarify whether:

  1. University indirect costs are considered an eligible expense for this program?
  2. Principal investigator salary contribution is an eligible expense for this program?

Answer 14:

  1. No.
  2. Yes.

Question 15: A collaborator from a different Canadian institution and I are responding to the FAST AO with proposals to contribute clearly separate but mutually dependent components of a larger multinational project. Both of us will simultaneously but separately build and commission our separate but mutually dependent components, will each support operations of our components during the flight, and will both be involved with post flight analysis. The contributions are eligible according to the description in section 3.2 and 6.2 of the FAST AO. The total request, between the two institutions, will not exceed the $250,000 limit listed in section 6.1 of the FAST AO.

In section 6.1, it states:

However, two or more PIs can apply separately for the same project if each targets different development phases, but the aggregate funds requested by these PIs cannot exceed the funding limits mentioned above.

We are attempting to understand what is meant by "different development phases" in the above paragraph. Is this phrase intended to disallow the type of collaboration I have described, or is it acceptable, as long as the contributions are clearly distinguishable?

Answer 15: It is acceptable to present two proposals that will contribute to the development of separate but mutually dependent components, if the total request for funds between the two institutions does not exceed the $250,000 limit listed in section 6.1.

Question 16: For the purposes of this FAST AO, what criteria apply to decide whether a particular spacecraft is a nanosatellite?

Answer 16: To be eligible for the FAST AO, a "nanosatellite" should not have a mass exceeding 10 kilograms.

Question 17: The response to FAQ #10 states that "Overhead is not an eligible expense under this AO." Does the prohibition on overhead also apply to sub-grants or contracts with foreign partners?

Answer 17: "Overhead" is not an eligible expense for the FAST AO. Moreover, according to Treasury Board rules, a grant cannot be divided into sub-grants and then distributed amongst different institutions. Therefore, a foreign partner cannot receive part of the grant except if such a partner provides a service and a contract has been put in place for that subject matter.

Funds obtained through the FAST AO can only be used to support eligible expenses as described in the AO, whether they are supported by the recipient or by a consultant.

Question 18: Will the CSA provide FAST applicants with information pertaining to the expenses associated with the balloon platform?

Answer 18: No. All expenses associated with payload and gondola development, testing, integration and shipping, as well as travel and accommodation before, during and after the launch campaign, are the grant recipient's responsibility. Expenses associated with a CNES balloon launch, flight operation and balloon recovery, as well as the TM/TC system, will be supported by CNES and/or CSA and therefore should not be considered in a FAST AO proposal.

Question 19: Can you please clarify the eligibility criteria for being a Co-Investigator (Co-I) for a FAST proposal? More specifically, can someone with his/her own consulting company, but not an employee of any organization, be a Co-I?

Answer 19: A Co-I is considered to be a contributing team member with an in-depth knowledge of the proposed research project.

Question 20: The AO stipulates that an NSERC Form 100 be provided for "each member of the team." Are international team members required to provide an NSERC Form 100 or can they provide their CV and letter of support in lieu of the NSERC Form 100?

Answer 20: International members of the team, as well as other collaborators, are not required to provide an NSERC Form 100. However, it is the applicant's responsibility to provide all appropriate information for the evaluation of the proposal according to the FAST AO selection criteria.

Question 21: Should an individual collaborating in the project be considered as a co-investigator or contractor?

Answer 21: It is up to the principal investigator to identify the roles and responsibilities of team members as she or he sees fit.

Question 22:

  1. Where can I find more information on the CNES balloon flights from Timmins? I would be particularly interested in typical altitude profiles and predicted flight paths from that location.
  2. Also, the AO indicates that the user's manuals and information on the TM/TC-SIREN system are available on request. How do I make such a request for those documents?

Answer 22:

  1. For general information on CSA's balloon program, please refer to:

    Regarding mission profile, several altitudes are possible when using a stratospheric balloon. These altitudes typically range between 32-42 km. Multiple levels during one flight are also possible. The chosen profile is typically a function of the payload's scientific and technical objectives, the total mass of the entire platform as well as the wind parameters on the day of the flight. For flights taking off from Timmins, the path generally follows an eastward or westward direction, depending on the stratospheric winds. The flight must be kept within a 500 km radius flight polygon from the launch site:

    Image of 500 km radius from launch site

    Credit: Google

  2. To obtain a copy of the CNES Balloon User Manuel, please send a request to: This document is subject to change at any time. Notice of such changes will be sent only to organizations that would have officially requested a copy of the document.

Appendix A Scoring and Weighting

A numerical weight is associated with each criterion. It is strongly recommended that applicants draft their proposals by providing information related to each highest score. Proposals that only or mainly describe the scientific and/or technological merits of their project will have a very low probability of obtaining a grant. Since the objective of this AO is to train HQP, most of the selection criteria are related to HQP training.

1. Benefits to Canada

Benefits to Canada criterion score

Max. 20
Min. 14

1.1. Advancement of new knowledge and technology

This criterion evaluates the originality of the research and its probable impact and potential to advance our knowledge in the field of space science and technology, directly or indirectly. Does the proposed research have the potential to result in long-term, groundbreaking advances in the field of space science and technology and/or in other fields of study? Does the project contribute to the development of new ideas that may be integrated into a future space mission? Have some or all of the objectives already been addressed by a previous, related project? If so, how new are the current stated objectives of the proposed project and to what degree will they build on previous work and impact our knowledge of space science and technology?

Poor: The research is not expected to have a significant short- or long-term impact, and/or is a reapplication of previous work. The project lacks novel concepts and will not contribute to advancement of new knowledge. (Score: 0)

Average: The research could advance knowledge in the field of space science and technology. The work is largely derivative of previous work. (Score: 4)

Good: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of space science and technology. The new ideas in science and technology to be developed are likely to be integrated into a space mission. The proposed research involves new or original concepts or methods, and/or builds on previous work. (Score: 7)

Excellent: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of space science and technology and have a broad, long-term impact beyond the immediate field of study. The new ideas in science and technology to be developed have a strong chance of being integrated into a space mission or being used/commercialized by the industry. The proposed research stands out because of its highly innovative or original scientific or technical concepts or methods, and/or builds significantly on previous work. (Score: 10)

1.2. The Relevance of knowledge and professional skills acquired by Canadian HQP to future space missions and/or to marketplace employment requirements

This criterion is used to assess the degree to which knowledge and professional skills to be acquired by all HQP involved in the project will contribute to a potential space mission.
Will the proposed training activities produce appropriate knowledge and professional skills that a space mission would require?
What type of space missions will be able to make use of the knowledge and professional skills to be acquired?
Will the professional and technical skills acquired by HQP increase their mobility from Canadian universities to the marketplace?

Poor: The scientific, technical, and operational knowledge and professional skills acquired by HQP over the course of the project are not related or are irrelevant to any potential space missions. It is also not clear how the professional and technical skills acquired by HQP will increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 0)

Average: The scientific and/or technical and/or operational knowledge and professional skills to be acquired are defined to some degree and are related to a potential space mission. However, it is not clear who would acquire knowledge and skills, what the knowledge or skills would consist or what purposes they would serve. There is insufficient rational to demonstrate how the knowledge and professional skills to be acquired are relevant to future space missions. The professional skills and technical skills acquired by HQP may increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 4)

Good: There is a clear and well-defined description of how the scientific and/or technical and/or operational knowledge and professional skills to be acquired by HQP will be used in a future space mission. The expertise to be developed is clearly relevant to future space missions. The professional skills and technical skills acquired by HQP will increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 7)

Excellent: The scientific and/or technical and/or operational knowledge and professional skills to be acquired by HQP involved in the project are clearly defined and related to potential space missions. The proposal demonstrates a detailed understanding of the knowledge and skills required for a potential space mission, and establishes a clear link with the knowledge and professional skills to be acquired over the course of the project. As confirmed in the proposal by industrial collaborators, the professional skills and technical skills acquired by HQP will greatly increase their mobility from the university to the marketplace. (Score: 10)

2. Results in Terms of Contribution to the Training of HQP

Results criterion score

Max. 30
Min. 18

2.1. Number of HQP in relation to the total project budget

This criterion evaluates the number of HQP to be involved in the project in relation to the proposed budget.

Poor: The ratio of HQP to the total project budget is relatively low. (Score: 0)

Average: The ratio of HQP to the total project budget is relatively medium. (Score: 4)

Good: The ratio of HQP to the total project budget is relatively high. (Score: 7)

Excellent: The ratio of HQP to the total project budget is considerable and the project involves one or more postdoctoral fellows and/or research associates. (Score: 10)

2.2. HQP involvement in all phases of the project, from beginning to end

This criterion evaluates the level of involvement of each HQP in all phases of the project.

Poor: The level of HQP involvement is not adequately described. It is not clear how each HQP will contribute to the project. HQP are mainly involved in only a single phase of the project. (Score: 0)

Average: Some HQP will be involved in only specific phases of the project but there is a lack of information on their level and type of involvement.(Score: 8)

Good: There is a good description on how each HQP will benefit from his/her participation in the project. Each HQP will participate in most mission phases of the project. HQP involvement is important for the success of the project. (Score: 14)

Excellent: There is a detailed description on how each HQP will benefit from participating in the project. There is significant involvement of each HQP in all phases of the project and such involvement is essential for the success of the project. (Score: 20)

3. Resources

Resources criterion score

Max. 25
Min. 15

3.1. Quality and experience of the team

This criterion evaluates the quality of the project team, its combination of expertise, and its ability to carry out the research project and provide the proposed training activities. It evaluates the qualifications of the team members and the past performance of supervisors (PI, Co-Investigator or postdoctoral fellows as applicable), particularly their track record in training HQP.

Poor: The team has no experience or expertise in the field of study and/or the supervisors have little to no track record with training HQP. (Score: 2)

Average: The project team has some experience and expertise in the field of study. However, although the supervisors have a track record in managing and completing similar projects, they have little experience in training HQP. All team members may not have the appropriate expertise for the roles and responsibilities they would have during the project. (Score: 4)

Good: Members of the team have demonstrated experience and expertise in the field of study and the supervisors have a good track record in training HQP. There is a good combination of expertise to undertake the proposed project and training activities. The supervisors have demonstrated the ability to manage and complete similar projects. Roles and responsibilities of each member correspond to their expertise and experience. (Score: 7)

Excellent: All team members have extensive experience in the field of study and the supervisors have a solid track record in training HQP. The combination of expertise needed to undertake the proposed project and training activities is excellent. The team members have demonstrated the ability to manage and complete more than two similar projects. Roles and responsibilities of each member correspond to their expertise and experience. (Score: 10)

3.2. Interaction between researchers from different disciplines and occupations

This criterion evaluates how well the project promotes collaborative team research and interaction between HQP of different levels of academic program (Master's, PhD, and postdoctoral fellows), between HQP and researchers from different disciplines, and other occupations from academia, industry and government.

Poor: All HQP involved in the project are at the same academic level and/or have unclear or limited interaction with researchers other than their supervisor(s). (Score: 0)

Average: Some HQP involved in the project collaborate and interact with researchers from different disciplines and with other from academia, industry or governments. HQP are, however, are at the same academic level (program and/or disciplines). (Score: 2)

Good: Most of the HQP involved in the project collaborate and interact with researchers from different disciplines and others in academia and industry. HQP are at different levels of academic programs and disciplines. (Score: 4)

Excellent: All HQP involved in the project collaborate and interact with researchers from different disciplines and with others in academia, industry and governments in Canada and abroad. There are researchers from other countries involved in the project. HQP are from different academic programs and disciplines. (Score: 5)

3.3 Access to other funding sources and resources

By definition, a space mission involves interdisciplinary activities performed by various organizations. This criterion evaluates the confirmed funding and in-kind contributions provided by the applicants and other organizations. Funding from organizations other than the CSA must be confirmed if it exceeds 25% of the total project budget. The application includes letters from funding sources confirming their level of funding.

Poor: There is no leveraged funding or in-kind contributions from the applicants or from other organizations. (Score: 0)

Average: Funds may come from an organization other than the CSA but have yet to be confirmed. There is an in-kind contribution to be provided by the applicant and/or other organizations. (Score: 4)

Good: There is some leveraging of funds. The applicant as well as other organizations will provide funds and/or in-kind contributions. Funds to be provided by other organizations have been confirmed or account for less than 25% of the total project budget. (Score: 7)

Excellent: Leveraging of funds from other organizations is significant and industry contributes to the project through in-kind or cash contribution. Funds from organization(s) other than the CSA represent more than 25% of the total project budget and are all confirmed. (Score: 10)

4. Feasibility of the Project

Feasibility of the Project criterion score

Max. 20
Min. 15

4.1 Clarity and completeness of the research and training plans

This criterion evaluates the clarity, completeness and feasibility of the research and training plans, with the roles and responsibilities, contribution and level of involvement of each team member clearly identified. The criterion also evaluates the likelihood that the work will be completed on schedule and within budget. Is the project methodology clearly described and understandable? Does the methodology seem realistic, efficient and well-suited to the project objectives? Given the proposed workplan, which should include a methodology, budget, equipment, and timelines for the project, are the objectives likely to be achieved? Is the training plan appropriate to preparing HQP to become well-rounded, high-quality HQP able to pursue productive careers in various space sectors within industry, government, academia and non-profit organizations? Could HQP be trained and acquire the same type of knowledge at lower cost?

Poor: The work plan is poorly defined and/or there is a high likelihood that the objectives will not be met because of any or a combination of the following: inappropriate methods; inadequate or unavailable resources; the proposed budget or schedule is incomplete and/or highly under- or over-estimated. (Score: 0)

Average: The work plan is defined to some degree, but details are lacking. The work could be completed on schedule and within budget, but some doubts remain concerning the suitability of methods and availability of resources. A budget that appears to be reasonable is provided along with a basic rationale for projected expenses. (Score: 4)

Good: The work plan is well defined. The methodology and resources required are clearly described and well-suited to the work to be carried out. A budget is provided along with a sound rationale for projected expenses. The likelihood that the defined work will be completed on schedule and within budget is good. (Score: 7)

Excellent: The work plan is well defined. The methodology and resources required are clearly described and well-suited to the work to be carried out. A well-thought-out management plan is provided (e.g., detailed work breakdown and related expenses, scheduled milestones, time allocations for team members, discussion of possible technical/management risks, etc). The proposal identifies adequate resources to be allocated to the project that are validated in a detailed rationale in support of the budget. The likelihood that the work will be completed within schedule and budget is excellent. (Score: 10)

4.2 Quality of training and mentoring environment

This criterion evaluates the quality of the training and of the mentoring environment as described in the training plan, as well as the quality of involvement of supervisors in developing HQP.

Poor: The proposal provides very little information on the contributions of supervisors and their level of involvement in the proposed activities for HQP. There are no clear mechanisms to be used by HQP to participate in the project decision-making process, share their findings and ideas, and obtain appropriate feedback from supervisors. Nothing or very little is said about the opportunity for HQP to present their findings at public events such as conferences and workshops. (Score: 0)

Average: Some mechanisms for communications, learning and information-sharing amongst supervisors and HQP are described. Few details are provided as to how HQP will participate in the project decision-making process. There is a feedback mechanism, but it is not well described and/or not scheduled in the training plan. There are vague details as to how and when HQP may participate in conference, workshop and meetings and present their findings. (Score: 4)

Good: The roles and responsibilities of HQP and their supervisors are appropriate and there their level of involvement in HQP training is good. The training and mentoring environment will clearly help to produce the expected benefits. Mechanisms for communications, learning and information-sharing amongst all team members are well described and are appropriate considering the training goals. Details are provided as to how HQP will participate in the project decision-making process. Formal feedback mechanisms are scheduled in the training plan. HQP will participate in specific conferences, workshops, and official meetings to disseminate and present their findings. (Score: 7)

Excellent: The roles and responsibilities of HQP as well as their supervisors are appropriate and their respective level of involvement in the proposed training activities is outstanding. The training and mentoring environment will clearly help produce the expected benefits. There are proven ongoing communications, learning and information-sharing mechanisms among all team members. It is clearly explained how supervisors will help HQP to improve their technical, scientific, communications, and employment skills and increase their self-confidence. Details are provided as to how HQP will participate in the project decision-making process. Formal feedback mechanisms are scheduled in the training plan. HQP will participate in relevant conferences, workshops, and official meetings to disseminate and present their findings. (Score: 10)

5. Risk and mitigation measures

Risk and mitigation measures criterion score

Max. 5
Min. 2

5.1 Project risks (financial, managerial, environmental and technical) and mitigation strategies

This criterion evaluates key risks associated with the project and the mitigation strategies for each risk. In addition, a thorough analysis of the project's financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks will be carried out. Detailed information should be provided on the payload flight readiness, and the risk and mitigation strategies associated with the payload launch (level of uncertainties related to the launch date and site, agreement with the launch provider, collaboration with industry and foreign research partners). Has the applicant identified and described in details the risks including, but not limited to, the environmental, technical, managerial (including access to financial, human and material resources), and scheduling risks associated with the project? Are the mitigation strategies for each risk well thought out and realistic? What is the probability that such risks will occur?

Poor: The proposal does not identify any key risks or outline any mitigation strategies or some risks are identified, but associated mitigation strategies are missing. (Score: 0)

Average: The proposal identifies some, but not all, of the main risks and provides mitigation strategies for those identified risks. (Score: 2)

Good: Key financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks and associated mitigation strategies are described and relevant, but there is little information provided for the purpose of assessing the probability of the risks materializing. (Score: 4)

Excellent: Key financial, technical, managerial and environmental risks and associated mitigation strategies are described and relevant. The information provided for the purpose of assessing the probability of the risks materializing is deemed realistic. (Score: 5)

Evaluation score

Total Max. 100
Total Min. 70Footnote 1

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