I was invited to speak at the Galaxy Forum Canada last weekend in Vancouver, organised by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA). The title of my talk was "Canada to the Moon: Galaxy Science and Lunar Enterprise", and the gist of my presentation was that it takes Vision, Capacity, and Leadership for Canada to continue to excel in space.
Vision: I went back to John H. Chapman's 1967 report to discuss vision and compared Canada's "meet our needs" approach to the US bolder "Man to the Moon" approach in the 1960's. Those visions have led to amazing endeavours such as Chris Hadfield's recent flight on ISS, and private enterprise innovating in space, catalyzed by the X PRIZE competitions.
Capacity: Capacity definitely exists in Canada - the technology, the people, the terrestrial expertise in areas such as mining, an experienced astronaut core, great analogue sites for training and development; it's all there. We have to make sure it is sustained and continues to develop and evolve.
Leadership: It will take strong government leadership that believes in investing in long term R&D to make sure Canada continues to play a valuable role in space internationally. The private sector needs to be encouraged even more to break the bonds of tradition and allow us to do things in space (and on the ground) that no one thought was possible.
Take a look at my presentation here.
There were talks by Steve Durst from ILOA and Bob Richards from Moon Express, among others. They unveiled an interesting collaboration that will see the first privately-funded telescope to space on Moon Express' lander in 2015. I wrote an article about it, published here.
I am used to the international space agency crowd. I look forward to spending more time with what I think is still considered the "unconventional crowd", in the circles I'm more used to frequenting. If things keep going the way they are going, this unconventional crowd may become the new leaders in space exploration in the future.