Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mars Or Bust

Well in this case its a bust for the Canadian Space Agency and Canada's value added high tech industries that are leading edge in space robotics.

Ottawa scraps plans for Canadian-built Mars rover

Harkening back to the days of Diefenbaker Conservatives who abolished the Avro Arrow program for the sake of the American Military Industrial complex, this time its nothing as sinister. Just good old fashioned incompetence, and internal squabbaling over the spoils of government largese and patronage.

There currently is no head of the Canadian Space Agency. And for the past decade the agency has had its budget cut under the Liberals. Now the Conservatives dither over funding a project that Canada is leading the field in. A project that both the Europeans and NASA are willing to pay for!

Hello what was that Jim Flaherty was talking about in his fall pre-budget announcement oh yeah Advantage Canada. Well that advantage apparently does not extend to our expertise in space exploration technology.

Another Avro in the making. Nice to see non partisan outrage over this in the blogosphere,Progressive Bloggers have posted on this latest impact of Tory funding cuts. And as usual the silence is deafening over at the Blogging Sorries.

Oh yes and by the way this was a scoop by CBC, the taxpayer funded public network, not CTV or Global. Hat tip to our public broadcaster.

The federal government has turned down a request by Canada's space industry to support a contract that would have allowed the companies to build the European Space Agency's Mars surface rover, CBC News has learned.

The decision stunned the companies and has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner, as no European firm is adequately prepared to match the technical abilities of Canadian firms to build its ExoMars rover.

A computer rendition of the ExoMars rover, which the European Space Agency wanted the Canadian space industry to build for a planned mission to Mars by 2015.A computer rendition of the ExoMars rover, which the European Space Agency wanted the Canadian space industry to build for a planned mission to Mars by 2015.
(European Space Agency)

The ESA wanted Canadian space companies — considered world leaders in robotics — to build the rover for its planned exploration of Mars by 2015. The rover would have a far more sophisticated robotics package than the current U.S. platforms in use.

In July, the companies made an impassioned presentation to federal Industry Ministry officials for a clearer mandate for the Canadian Space Agency, which included making the Mars rover project its top priority, the CBC's Henry Champ told the CBC's Don Newman Thursday on Politics.

The project required no additional funding from Ottawa, but was contingent upon $100 million over 10 years from the existing CSA budget being redirected to the program by restructuring priorities and cancelling or postponing other projects, according to documents obtained by the CBC.

But just a few short weeks after the presentation, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier told the companies the government hadn't made up its mind about the future of Canada's space role and didn't want to go forward with the project.



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