In 2010, Canada injected some $110M of stimulus money into the Canadian Space Agency. Part of this money went to The Lunar Exploration Light Rovers program, a series of contacts awarded to various companies and universities worth about $60M.
However the decision was made to fund lunar rovers, it was brilliant. The moon had been relatively ignored in the wake of the Mars landings of Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. Between Mars advocacy groups and Elon Musk the moon had been relegated to second status as an exploration destination.
This left Canada in a relatively quiet area of research, which is great if you have limited resources. You want to focus where others are not to gain the advantage! In true Canadian fashion, the results surpassed expectations.
One of the stimulus contracts went to Ontario Drive and Gear (ODG), who took a very commercial approach to the design of their Juno and Artemis rovers. A leader in terrestrial surface mobility, they sought to provide a rover that could host any type of payload. In this way the same rover could serve many missions.
June 2, 2014
Members of the University of Victoria team with the CSDC trophy. From left to right: Cass Hussman, Devin Pelletier,
Spencer Davis, Justin Curran, CSDCMS President Larry Reeves, and Nigel Syrotuck.
The Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) completed its second offering last week, with the University of Victoria winning top honours for its satellite, while the University of Manitoba won the inaugural UrtheCast Educational Outreach Award.
On Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 from 1:00-4:00pm there will be a public unveiling of the launch vehicle designed and constructed by students from the University of Toronto Aeronautics Team Rocketry Division (UTAT Rocketry). This unveiling will take place on the premises of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies located at 4925 Dufferin Street, Toronto ON. Members of the public are encouraged to come and see the final vehicle and take photos. UTAT Rocketry will also be hosting a public demonstration of their student-built hybrid rocket engine at 4:00pm at the same location (weather-permitting).
UTAT is an interdisciplinary design team at the University of Toronto that focuses on aerospace design. UTAT is composed of five divisions: Powered Flight, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Rocketry, Outreach, and - in the upcoming 2014-2015 season - Space Systems, focusing on a number of different design and community projects. More information regarding the team can be found at www.utat.skule.ca.
Located in the Caribbean Sea, the island of Aruba is well-known for its sandy beaches, year-round sunny weather, and friendly people. What you might not know is that its relatively isolated location off the coast of Venezuela makes it an ideal spot for interference-free radio communication. In fact, amateur radio enthusiasts have set numerous long-distance communication records over the past few decades thanks to Aruba's clear weather, geographic location, and distance from major radio traffic. Now, a team in Aruba is looking to use this advantage to enter the space arena.
In collaboration with the Technical University of Graz, the University of Vienna, and the Polish Academy of Sciences, the University of Toronto's Space Flight Laboratory is designing, developing, and launching a constellation of small satellites in order to study luminous stars in our solar neighborhood. The BRight Target Explorer program, or BRITE, currently has two operational satellites in orbit gathering meaningful science data, and the consortium is planning on adding several satellites to the constellation in the near future. While this addition is crucial to the science team in terms of data gathered, it increases the transmission requirements for the constellation's ground segments. This is where Aruba comes in. A handful of radio amateurs and satellite enthusiasts on the island are working in partnership with a local technical college to build a BRITE-compatible ground station.
Technological heavy hitters, Google and DARPA to name a few, are demonstrating the value found in challenging both experts and the community at large to take on complex technical problems. Challenges such as the Google X-Prize empower a range of participants -- from the technological genius to the average Joe -- to devise and execute innovative ideas that otherwise may not have seen the light of day. From the sponsoring organization's perspective, these activities present a low-risk, high-payoff activity: the organization will get to select the best technical solution, regardless of the level of work exerted by the participants. The competition thus becomes a win-win situation for both the participants, who work towards winning the prize and the publicity that comes with it, and the sponsoring organization, who benefits from fresh, crowd-sourced ideas. How can accomplished organizations with established technical objectives best use open innovation challenges to further their goals? Systems Engineering students at The George Washington University, led by Ottawa-native Dr. Zoe Szajnfarber, want to figure that out.