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News from the Canadian space industry - 2020

Canadian Space Agency signs Memorandum of Understanding with Virgin Galactic, world leader in suborbital commercial spaceflight

Sunrise as seen from space.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Virgin Galactic , heralding the beginning of a collaborative relationship between the two organizations.

The purpose of this collaboration is to explore the possibilities of using the Virgin Galactic Spaceflight System (VSS), which offers suborbital microgravity flights, for future CSA payloads and spaceflight participants. It also aims to facilitate the exchange of information on collaboration opportunities between Virgin Galactic, the CSA, and the Canadian space industry and academia.

Virgin Galactic and the CSA will begin by discussing the capabilities of the VSS and related Virgin Galactic services. The two organizations will also look at creating opportunities to consult with Canadian industry and potential users of the VSS.

This agreement will support the CSA's objective to be Canada's leader in capability demonstration by providing the space industry, universities and other government departments with access to platforms, demonstration opportunities and unique expertise.

Planning for the future: Solutions to meet an increased need for Earth observation data from space

Canada from space

Credit: RADARSAT-2 Data and products © MDA Geospatial Services Inc.  - All rights reserved. RADARSAT is an official mark of the Canadian Space Agency.

In a country as vast as Canada, observing Earth from space helps our government monitor and protect the environment and the North, manage our natural resources, and ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

Canada's RADARSAT satellites have been monitoring our country for 25 years. The high-quality data they send down to Earth enables services like ice mapping, maritime surveillance, and disaster response. It advances cutting-edge science to understand our planet.

Satellites like the RADARSAT Constellation Mission take years to build and launch to space, and they don't last forever. Canada is planning for the future.

Eight contracts of $350,000 each have been awarded to develop new solutions on how to meet an increasing need for Earth observation data in the future.

The companies that received funding are MDA Systems Ltd, Polar View Canada Limited, C-CORE, AstroCom Associates Inc., Space Strategies Consulting Ltd (SSCL), INSARSAT Inc., UrtheCast Corp. and Airbus DS GmbH.

Space data: blueprint for our future. (Credits: CSA, Environment and Climate Change Canada, NASA, Canadian Armed Forces / Department of National Defence)

Update on Canada's participation in European Space Agency programmes

Credit: CSA)

We recently updated our content on the Canada-European Space Agency (ESA) Cooperation Agreement in order to reflect the CSA's most recent financial commitments to various ESA programmes. You will find information on how to do business with ESA, including how to submit a bid under programs requiring a letter of support from the Canadian delegation to ESA.

Since 1979, the Canada-ESA Cooperation Agreement has enabled Canadian companies to bid on ESA contracts related to activities and programs in which Canada participates. Among other things, this cooperation fosters innovation and competitiveness; facilitates the participation of Canadian scientists in ESA missions; and allows Canada, the only non-European cooperating state, to be part of ESA's decision-making process.

For many Canadian companies and universities, Canada's investments in ESA programmes have resulted in job creation and acquisition of knowledge and skills. The Swarm mission and the development of the Proba-2 satellite are remarkable examples of the success of this collaboration.

If you have any questions about the cooperation between the CSA and ESA, please write to

Canadian space glider to shake up future of Earth observation

Credit: Stratodynamics Aviation Inc.

A small Canadian company from rural Ontario is building a "space plane" that will change the way we look at our atmosphere.

Stratodynamics Aviation Inc. of Kenilworth, Ontario, is working on the next iteration of HiDRON, an unpiloted stratospheric glider that will be able to carry science instruments to stratospheric altitudes, providing researchers with a new tool for research on climate change, radiation and atmospheric science.

The glider is lifted on a balloon to the stratosphere, where it is released to make a controlled descent back to Earth. On its way down, the aircraft allows for atmospheric data and measurements to be collected.

The first generation of HiDRON was successfully tested during the Strato-Science campaign in Timmins, Ontario. The success of the technology attracted collaborators from around the world who are looking for cost-effective access to the stratosphere.

Stratodynamics is now working with experts from the University of Waterloo as well as its strategic collaborator, UAVOS, on the design and communications components to enhance aerodynamic and telemetry performance, and its US affiliate is in the final integration phase for its upcoming launch from Spaceport America – as part of NASA's Flight Opportunities program – to validate a new method of real-time turbulence detection.

The CSA is supporting this promising, environmentally friendly technology through its Space Technology Development Program (STDP). Find out more about the other innovative Canadian companies we are funding under the STDP.

Canadian technology developed for astronomy helps detect cancer cells

Credit: Nüvü Caméras

Nüvü Caméras never dreamed that its ultrasensitive camera technology, initially developed for space, would one day become very useful in the medical field. But today, the Montreal-based company's technology actually shows great promise for cancer surgery.

Nüvü's ultrasensitive camera produces highly precise imagery that can detect even the tiniest cancer cells, making it possible to remove those cells while keeping healthy tissue in place. The camera is currently undergoing clinical testing to enable Nüvü to sell medical instruments to hospitals in Canada and abroad.

In addition to being very useful for night vision—and currently the only technology able to identify the smallest space debris, Nüvü's technology has been certified for use in space. Some of the company's imagery systems will be used on NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (formerly known as WFIRST), set to launch in the mid-2020s.

The CSA provided financial support for the development of Nüvü's ultrasensitive imagery technology through its Space Technology Development Program (STDP). Learn more about recent contributions awarded as part of the program, and about other innovative Canadian companies that are sure to shine in the future, both in space and on Earth.

Funding for space research and development

Following an announcement of opportunity (AO) published in , the CSA is awarding funding to Canadian companies for research and development under four categories:

Contributions, names of the companies and projects will be announced as soon as the funding is given. Visit the page Contributions awarded under the STDP – AO 6 for all the updates.

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