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Consulting Canadians on a modern regulatory framework for space

Space is a strategic national asset for Canada. It is a driver of economic growth, a catalyst for invention, a creator of transformational technologies, and a source of essential information. The space sector is becoming more competitive as technology rapidly proliferates and more players enter the global space market with innovative technologies and transformative applications (e.g. satellite constellations; space resource utilization; in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing).

In order to ensure that Canadian industry is equipped with a modern regulatory framework for space that will enable it to compete in this global market, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with government partners to conduct a review of Canada's regulatory framework for space-related activities. This review, a commitment in the Government of Canada's space strategy (Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada), will help to make sure that Canada's space-related regulations are keeping pace with the changes in the global space sector so that we enable innovative space companies to prosper here in Canada while respecting national security considerations and international obligations.

From to , Canadians were invited to share their views on Canada's space regulatory framework.

The consultation period closed on . The What We Heard report provides an overview of the key themes of the responses received.

The consultation period closed on . An overview of the key themes of the responses received is compiled in What we heard report: Consulting Canadians on a modern regulatory framework for space.

Consultation process

From to , the Government of Canada sought views from Canadians on Canada's space regulatory framework.

The consultation process was open to all Canadians; everyone was invited to share their perspectives. In particular, stakeholders with an interest in the Canadian space regulatory environment were invited to provide feedback.

Interested parties may include:

Suggested questions

Participants were asked to consider reviewing the background context and answering the following questions as they prepared their submissions:

  • How do you view the current regulatory framework for space and how does it affect your organization?
  • If the Government of Canada were to modify the regulatory framework for space, what should the goals of that framework be and why?
  • What issues or activities require a new or changed approach and why?
  • What does the Government need to know to ensure that a modern regulatory framework enables space companies to prosper in Canada?

The consultation period closed at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time) on .

Backgrounder text

In  the Government of Canada released Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada. In order to deliver on the vision for Canada's space strategy, the Government committed to reviewing Canada's regulatory framework for space-related activities. Consultations with Canadians will provide stakeholders the opportunity to weigh in on this important work. You are invited to consult the background materials below before submitting your views.

Canadian expertise and leadership in space

Canada has long been a major player in space. In , Canada became the third country to independently build and operate a satellite with the launch of Alouette 1. Canada's astronaut corps was formed in , and has since included fourteen astronauts. Canada is a partner on the International Space Station (ISS) and on the upcoming U.S.-led Lunar Gateway, and is involved in a number of exciting space exploration initiatives that will help humanity take the next steps to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. A Canadian astronaut will be a part of Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the Moon since .

Canadian space sector

The Canadian space sector has established a world-class reputation in many areas, including in Earth observation (EO), space robotics, space science and exploration, and satellite communications. In alone, the sector is estimated to have contributed $2.5B to Canada's GDP and supported a total of 22,879 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the greater Canadian economy (including space sector jobs, supply industry jobs and jobs created as a result of consumer spending). Canadian space organizations are internationally renowned for their leading-edge technologies.

Earth observation

Canada launched RADARSAT-1 in , followed by RADARSAT-2 in and the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) in to bring solutions to key challenges for Canadians. SCISAT, an atmospheric research satellite launched in , provides data on the ozone layer as well as climate change and air quality and pollution. Canada's latest EO satellite missions are in development. Wildfiresat has a planned launch date in . It will monitor all active wildfires in Canada on a daily basis. The HAWC mission, a major component of NASA's Earth System Observatory, will launch in . It will provide critical data to support extreme weather prediction, climate modelling, and monitoring of disasters.

In addition to domestic capability, Canada also partners with other countries to build EO satellites (e.g. NASA's Cloudsat) and share data (e.g. with the European Copernicus program). Satellite EO is estimated to make an annual contribution of $20.7 billion in productivity improvements to the Canadian economy, an impressive number that illustrates the importance of satellite EO data to society. In , the Government of Canada released Resourceful, Resilient, Ready: Canada's Strategy for Satellite Earth Observation. The Strategy will guide efforts to generate the skills and economic opportunities needed to take advantage of new and emerging EO capabilities, and will also inform the GC's investment in new technologies such as machine learning, big data analytics, and advanced satellite systems.


Canada is a world leader in space robotics. The legendary Canadarm was first deployed in space in on NASA's space shuttle Columbia. Canadarm2 () and Dextre () were later installed on the ISS and have been instrumental in the assembly, maintenance and continuous operations of the Station. Looking ahead, Canada will contribute Canadarm3 to the U.S.-led Gateway, a lunar outpost that will enable sustainable human exploration of the Moon and a cornerstone of NASA's Artemis Program. Canada's expertise in space robotics has had important spin-off benefits on Earth. The neuroArm for example, is an image-guided robotic system used to assist neurosurgeons. The technology that went into developing neuroArm was born of the Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre.

Space science and exploration

Canada has been a major contributor to space science and exploration innovations and discoveries. Examples include important science contributions to the ISS, the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, and the James Webb Space Telescope. Canada is committed to participating in international space exploration efforts that aim to extend humanity's reach further into the solar system. Canada is a partner in the next major human exploration and science mission, the U.S.-led Lunar Gateway, which is a cornerstone of NASA's Artemis Program, a multi-mission campaign that will push human space exploration to the Moon and on to Mars. To support its lunar exploration activities, the CSA created the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (or "LEAP") , which provides a wide range of opportunities for Canadian space science and technology activities in lunar orbit, on the Moon's surface, and beyond. The program fosters innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, science and health, and supports the commercialization of innovative ideas from Canadian industry.

Canada's space legal framework

  • Aeronautics Act (Transport Canada) - The Aeronautics Act (AA) enables the making of regulations respecting the conditions under which aircraft may be used and operated or under which any act may be performed in or from an aircraft. The AA further authorizes the making of regulations respecting activities at aerodromes and the location, inspection, certification, registration, licensing and operation of aerodromes. The AA also applies to rockets and aerodromes used for the purposes of commercial space launch. Currently, pursuant to the Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), no one can launch a rocket from Canada without having obtained authorization from the Minister of Transport.
  • Radiocommunication Act (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) - The Radiocommunication Act is Canada's framework legislation for the management of radiocommunication transmission facilities and radio apparatus.
  • Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA) (Global Affairs Canada) – The RSSSA regulates remote sensing space systems operated by Canadians, which includes remote sensing satellites and their data and ground segments. A remote sensing satellite is defined under the RSSSA as one that is "capable of sensing the surface of the Earth through the use of electromagnetic waves." To regulate the operation of these remote sensing space systems, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) ensures, through licensing, that remote sensing activities are not injurious to national security, to the defence of Canada, to the safety of Canadian Armed Forces or to Canada's conduct of international relations nor are they inconsistent with Canada's international obligations.
  • Canadian Space Agency Act (Canadian Space Agency) – The CSA has a broad mandate to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians. As part of this role, the CSA coordinates and develops the Government of Canada's space policies and programs. The CSA handles all matters concerning space that are not specifically assigned to any other department or agency of the Government of Canada.

Other statutes, such as the Export and Import Permits Act, have an impact on space sector activities.

International treaties

Canada is a party to a series of treaties established through the United Nations in the 1960s and 1970s that form the basis of the legal framework for Canada on how to conduct activities in outer space:

  • Outer Space Treaty: The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty) of sets out principles, rights and obligations for state parties in the progress of their exploration and use of outer space, recognizing the common interest of all humankind. It also provides the foundation from which other space treaties were developed. Canada is one of the 112 states party to the treaty.
  • Rescue Agreement: The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue Agreement) of sets out state parties' responsibilities in respect of the return of astronauts and space objects in the event of accident, distress or emergency landing. Canada is one of the 99 states party to the treaty.
  • Liability Convention: The Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (Liability Convention) of sets out rules concerning liability in relation to damage caused by space objects. Canada is one of the 98 states party to the treaty.
  • Registration Convention: The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Registration Convention) of requires states party to establish and maintain a national registry of space objects and to register national space objects with the United Nations. Canada is one of the 72 states party to the treaty.

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