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Celebrating 50 Years of Canada in Space (Forwarded)
Canadian Space Agency
September 25, 2012
Celebrating 50 Years of Canada in Space
Fifty years ago, John H. Chapman and his team from the Defence Research
Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) in Ottawa were in the final stages
of preparing a small science satellite named Alouette for its historic
voyage into space. On Sept. 29, 1962, Canada's Alouette-1 was launched by
NASA from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This technological feat
-- at the dawn of the space age -- launched Canada as a space faring nation;
third, after Russia and the United States, to entirely design and build a
"Canada's rich history in space began with Alouette-1, and this legacy paved
the way for Canadian innovation in space, such as the iconic Canadarm," said
the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry. "Today, the Canadian
space sector has established a world-class reputation in niche areas such as
earth observation, space robotics, space science and exploration, and
"This was the beginning of a proud space legacy for Canada -- it opened the
door for outstanding international partnerships that continue to this day,"
said Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
It all began in 1958 when the US invited countries to submit ideas for space
experiments. Canada suggested a new approach, using space to study the
topside of the ionosphere not observable from the ground. John H. Chapman,
who was responsible for the Alouette program and whose name now adorns the
Canadian Space Agency headquarters, supervised the production of two
satellites. Alouette-1 and another, a backup, that was later modified to
incorporate improvements including an American experiment, when launched in
1965, as Alouette 2.
The design of Alouette-1 was complex and exceptionally advanced for the
technology of the time. Alouette-1 was an immense scientific and
technological success that operated for 10 years, showcasing Canadian
expertise and rigorous engineering; its performance exceeded all
expectations. Amongst its many awards the Alouette-1 satellite programme was
designated "an event of national historic significance" by the Government of
Canada in 2007.
"The success of Alouette-1 was all the more remarkable in that a new art had
to be established in space electronics and space mechanics. The program was
undertaken at a time when there were few guidelines to satellite design,
little was known of the in-orbit environment, semiconductor electronics was
in its infancy and satellites frequently failed or had limited lifetimes,"
said Colin Franklin, former Chief Electrical Engineer for Alouette at DRTE.
"Alouette-1 was the beginning of Canada's use of space for the public good.
Since then, the Candian Space Program has engaged people from nearly every
industry to explore how space can be used to improve the quality of life for
Canadians," stated Steve MacLean. "The space industry itself is a key driver
of innovation and commercialization -- it now employs 8,256 people and
contributes $3.4 billion to the economy."
In 2013, with the launch of the hybrid satellite CASSIOPE, Canada will
extend its leadership in studying the ionosphere. CASSIOPE will fly a
scientific instrument known as the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe (E-Pop), for
the University of Calgary and make a significant contribution to unraveling
the mysteries of space weather, which occurs in the ionosphere impacting
both satellites in orbit and technology on the ground.
Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested nearly $8 billion in
initiatives supporting science, technology and the growth of innovation
firms in Canada, including $5 billion for advanced research, education and
training; $2 billion for post-secondary infrastructure; and $1 billion for
applied research and financing. This funding has helped to make Canada a
world leader in post-secondary education research and to create the
knowledge and highly skilled workforce that are required for a more
For more information on the Alouette satellites, please visit:
For more information on the 50th anniversary of Canada in Space, please
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Space Agency
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