Ottawa has announced its intentions to launch commercial space activities in Canada.
The out-of-this-world news was shared at a press conference on Friday (Jan. 20) attended by federal officials and representatives from the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and Space Canada.
“Commercial space launches are a natural evolution of space applications and exploration, and Canada is poised to bring its long history and world-leading reputation to this quickly growing field,” said Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport. “Developing a commercial space launch regime for Canada will help make our space sector more competitive and will allow Canadian industry a greater market share of the global space economy.”
Officials are looking to enable safe commercial space launch activities in Canada under existing legislation and regulations on a case-by-case basis.
“Geographically, Canada is well-positioned to support space launches,” the government noted in a press release. “However, its regulatory framework needs to be modernized to address all aspects associated with this emerging industry.”
The announcement also means the door is open for passenger space flights in the future, as Nadine Ramadan, spokesperson for Alghabra, confirmed in an email to Global News.
Over the next three years, Transport Canada will collaborate with other federal departments and agencies to develop regulatory requirements, safety standards and licensing conditions necessary for commercial space launch in Canada.
In addition, the Minister of Transport will establish an interdepartmental review process to leverage expertise from other departments and agencies to ensure that any launch is considered and approved in a manner consistent with domestic legislation, international treaties and conventions, and national security and foreign policy interests of Canada.
While Canada has had domestic launches in the past out of Manitoba, they’ve only been sub-orbital — which means they never went fully into orbit.
With this new commitment, Canada will now be able to make orbital launches happen, according to former astronaut and current Liberal MP Marc Garneau.
Space-based technology placed in Earth’s orbit is in “high demand” in most sectors including transportation, services and telecommunication, Ottawa says.
Canada has been receiving requests “not only from domestic Canadian companies,” but also from companies “from around the world,” to make this happen, Alghabra told reporters.
The requests came “from South Korea, from Germany, from the Netherlands, from Italy, and others who understand that not only Canada has the geography, but also the talent and the ecosystem,” the transport minister said.
“But we didn’t have this framework that we announced today.”