The space industry has been on the cusp of an explosion for the last five years, but for the better part of a decade, it’s been in the shadows.
The sector has largely gone unnoticed, but it’s in a much better position than ever before.
For starters, Canada is one of the few places in the world where the private sector can put together a rocket and launch it into orbit.
This is key because the private space industry is poised to deliver the country’s first private satellite in 2024, with the US and China joining in 2020.
Canada’s space industry, however, is in a position of having no idea what it needs to build a viable space industry.
“Canada has the biggest aerospace industry in the developed world, and we have no plan to grow the aerospace industry,” said Chris Laidlaw, CEO of Spacejet.
“We need to get out of the way, let the market do its thing, and start working on things that are more likely to make a difference.”
The private space sector in Canada is on track to grow from a population of about 2.4 million in 2021 to an expected 4.5 million in 2025.
This is key, because Canada is also a major manufacturing base for space-based components.
Canada produces more than half of the components for the International Space Station, and in 2020, the country will have a total of 7,818 aerospace products and services produced.
This will be enough for more than 2.2 million Canadians to work and support their families.
However, Canada’s private space industries are in the early stages of their development.
While the government is encouraging private sector investment in the space sector, the government has limited the amount of funding available to the sector.
Laidlegs company, Spacejet, says it has already invested $1.7 million to expand the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) commercial crew program, but that will only be a part of its $2.7-billion budget.
That funding will go toward the development of a fleet of four commercial space taxis that will ferry astronauts into orbit for short missions, and provide space-faring tourists with a convenient way to get to space.
Laysa is one company that has taken a stab at developing a space taxi.
It plans to begin testing the prototype taxi in 2019, and it’s planning to use it to ferry astronauts to the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 2020 in Kazakhstan.
Layinga’s project will use its Space Taxi X cargo vehicle to ferry the first commercial crew to space, and the company says the crew will also include scientists and other payloads.
Laysa says it will use the Space Taxi to ferry a payload to the space station, as well as scientists, engineers and payloads that can be carried aboard the Space Station’s Harmony module, or for research, education and humanitarian purposes.
It says that the company will also be able to test the vehicle’s aerodynamics, thermal protection and structural integrity.
It has also invested $10 million in its space tourism business, and is looking to develop a second business venture to support its first commercial spacecraft, which it says will be able travel between 40 and 50 nautical miles in orbit, which is about the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
The company has already raised $20 million in venture capital and has raised $100 million from private investors, which Laysah said is going to allow it to invest in the company’s commercial crew and supply vehicle.
The company also plans to expand its Canadian space agency program and is planning to have a space flight in 2024.
But there’s a big question mark surrounding the future of Canada’s fledgling space industry: who will take over for Laysha?
“We have to get our head around what this industry looks like,” Laidawes CEO said.
“The government has given us some space funding, but we’re going to need to build out our own industry.
We need to start working in the private industry and build our own company.”
Laidaws company plans to start the private Space Taxi program in 2019.
And what about Canada’s astronaut population?
While Laysaa and its partner, Spaceflight Technologies, are the two companies planning to build and launch astronauts into space, both companies have stated that the government will not invest in a Canadian crew vehicle to take them to the ISS in 2021.
Layers of uncertainty exist in terms of how Canada will allocate funding to space activities over the next 10 years.
Laxaws CEO, Chris Laxaw, says the government must commit to funding an Orion space capsule, which the government says would be built by Canadian companies.
Lions’ Space Systems Inc. has also said it will not be able take astronauts to space for the 2020 Olympics, and neither company has yet been awarded a contract for a crew to the station.
Lets be clear, there are a number of companies vying to build