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2020’s Biggest Canadian Geospatial News — Canada in Space

2020 will be remembered by many as perhaps not the best year (and one we’d like to forget) — but we volunteers at GoGeomatics think that all Canadians should actually remember this year as Canada’s year in space.

We often hear about the United States, Europe and China’s roles in space and their many associated projects, but Canada really stepped up its role in space during 2020 and is proving to add value to the world’s interest in space exploration. Here are Canada’s major space news stories this year:

MDA

This Canadian company went through many restructuring changes in 2020 when in April, Maxar announced that it had spun out MDA.  Now MDA is once again a solely owned Canadian company and working on many exciting projects and building a great team.

Here are MDA’s top stories in 2020:

MDA received the contract from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop Canadarm3

Earlier in 2020, the CSA announced that MDA will be the main contractor for the Canadarm3 project. Many other smaller suppliers across Canada will also benefit as this project progresses.

An artist’s concept of Canadarm3. Source: Canadian Space Agency, NASA

The Canadarm3 will be located on the Lunar Gateway – a space station in lunar orbit 1/5 the size of the International Space Station. When built, the Lunar Gateway will allow continuous earth and space remote sensing imaging outside of the Earth’s magnetic field. Next Gen AI and other advanced software will allow the Canadarm3 to operate independently of humans after receiving instructions from astronauts on the Lunar Gateway or from Earth. As the Lunar Gateway will not always have a crew onboard the Canadarm3 will be essential for maintaining the Lunar Gateway when no crew are on board.

MDA Platinum Sponsor of Canada’s National Geospatial Conference: GeoIgnite 2021

GoGeomatics is pleased to be working with MDA as our platinum sponsor and partner for GeoIgnite 2021. This is Canada’s Geospatial Intelligence and Leadership event.

Astronaut Tim Kopra was appointed to serve as Vice President, Robotics and Space Operations

In June, retired astronaut, Tim Kopra, joined the MDA executive leadership team as Vice President of Robotics and Space Operations. He is responsible for the work of the Robotics and Space Operations team at MDA sites in Brampton, Ottawa, Saint-Hubert and Houston.

Dr. Minda Suchan was appointed Geointelligence Business Leader

In November, MDA welcomed the renowned Dr. Minda Suchan to the team as Vice President of Geointelligence.

Government of Canada is investing in Space-Based Earth Observation (SBEO)

In June, the CSA invited interested stakeholders to provide input to support and inform the Government of Canada’s commitment to advance SBEO capabilities.

SBEO technologies can benefit Canada and its citizens in many ways. Some applications include: new opportunities to improve the environment, agricultural practices and disease control; aid in allowing Canadian companies and researchers to be globally competitive; and, maintain national security.

Lisa Campbell was appointed as the first woman to head Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

Lisa Campbell, President of the Canadian Space Agency. Source: CSA

The Government of Canada announced in September, that Lisa Campbell will take over from Slyvian Laporte as the president of the Canadian Space Agency. This came at a time when the CSA was strengthening its role in space – in part through the new international lunar space station program – “The Lunar Gateway”.


This list is only a snapshot of Canada’s role in space. There are many on-going projects and missions, like RADARSAT-2, and other companies, such as Deploy Solutions, who are adding to the space sector in Canada. We predict that Canada will continue to add value to space exploration and we will likely see more space-related Canadian news stories throughout 2021.

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