The space sector has long been a driver of scientific exploration, knowledge, and technology used across many industries. Satellites play an unseen but important role in modern society and the global economy. From smartphones to weather forecasting, many of the functions Canadians rely on everyday depend on satellites and space technology. Today, innovative technologies and ways of doing business are generating new growth and investment in the global space sector.
Canada in a global context
Space is changing. For decades, governments and national space programs led demand for the services provided by satellites and exploration of space to enable scientific discovery. Governments remain a key driver of innovation and growth in space, but the private sector has an ever-growing role in increasing access to space, developing new products and services, and enabling human space flight. Competition between commercial launch service providers is lowering the cost of access to space, therefore enabling more companies and governments to launch satellites and spacecraft for commercial services, science, and defence.
Emerging space capabilities include smaller and more capable satellites, enabled by advances in manufacturing processes and miniaturization, across a range of markets and applications, from Earth observation to telecommunications. Other emerging applications for advanced space technology are the maintenance and refueling of satellites using robotic systems, space situational awareness and surveillance, mining of minerals or other resource from planets and asteroids, and the use of satellite-based quantum key distribution (QKD) to enable more secure communications services. These and other capabilities have the potential to generate new opportunities for Canadian business and generate growth and employment in Canada’s space sector.
Canada is collaborating with businesses by investing in advanced space technologies. Programs like the Space Technology Development Program (STDP), the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), and the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program offer funding opportunities for Canadian and global firms working in Canada to develop and commercialize emerging space capabilities.
Canada’s space program, led by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is also supporting future technology development through investments like the Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission and Canada’s new space robotics commitment to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) led Lunar Gateway mission.
- Surveillance of Space 2
- NorthStar Earth and Space (SIF)
- Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat)
- Moon exploration
Legislation and regulations
Radiocommunication Act, R.S.C. 1985, c R-2
Radiocommunication spectrum is a public resource managed by the Government in the public interest. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is responsible for spectrum planning, the allocation of spectrum to specific uses or services, and the assignment of spectrum to specific users. The Radiocommunication Act is Canada's framework legislation for the management of radiocommunication transmission facilities and radio apparatus.
Visit Spectrum management and telecommunications to learn more about spectrum licencing in Canada.
Remote Sensing Space Systems Act, S.C. 2005, c. 45
Canadian businesses are active in remote sensing (including Earth observation) data, products, and services. The Remote Sensing Space Systems Act and its Regulations authorize the Minister of Foreign Affairs to oversee the activities of any remote sensing system operating from Canada or by Canadian entities abroad. Licensing actions, including the setting of conditions, are exercised to ensure that remote sensing activities are not injurious to national security, to the defense of Canada, to the safety of Canadian Forces or to Canada’s conduct of international relations, nor are they inconsistent with Canada’s international obligations.
Visit Global Affairs Canada to learn more about remote sensing licencing in Canada.
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
SIF spurs innovation for a better Canada. Specifically, it serves to simplify application processes, accelerate processing, and provide assistance that is more responsive and focused on results. SIF allocates repayable and non-repayable contributions to firms of all sizes across all of Canada's industrial and technology sectors, across several funding streams.
Space Technology Development Program (STDP)
The CSA's STDP supports innovation to grow Canada’s space industry and reduce technological unknowns. The program issues contracts to Canadian organizations for the development of technologies to support future needs of the Canadian Space Program and non-repayable contributions to Canadian organizations to support the development of innovative technologies with strong commercial potential.
SmartEarth is the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) renewed funding initiative related to Earth observation applications development. It fosters a smart use of satellite data to develop solutions to key challenges on Earth and in our everyday lives.
Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP)
The Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) is a CSA program that is looking to foster innovation in areas of strength for Canada, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, science and health. It will support the commercialization of innovative ideas from Canadian industry, including small and medium-sized businesses, in order to help them become an integral part of the growing new-space economy. With a specific focus on deep space, LEAP will enable the Canadian space sector to develop and conduct science experiments designed for lunar conditions, advance and demonstrate innovative technologies in lunar orbit, the lunar surface, and beyond, and develop technologies that will be required as part of future deep-space missions.
European Space Agency (ESA)
Canada is the only non-European cooperating state in ESA. The Cooperation Agreement between Canada and ESA allows Canada to be part of the ESA's decision-making process. Through this unique agreement, Canadian organizations can bid on tenders for ESA contracts related to activities and programs in which Canada participates. It provides opportunities for them to create alliances with European industry and access to space qualification or flight opportunities for their technologies and products.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA is responsible for unique scientific and technological achievements in human spaceflight, aeronautics, space science, and space applications that have had widespread impacts on the U.S. and the world. Canada has become a unique partner for NASA and one of the few partners entrusted with mission critical elements. The CSA is currently participating in several flagship missions including the International Space Station. More information on CSA-NASA collaborations can be found on the CSA's website.
Visit our Programs and Initiatives page to learn more about government programs that help support businesses develop and commercialise of space innovations.
Visit our Resources page to find out more about resources that can help you support your business.
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