Ottawa, Feb 8 IANS | 9 months ago

Canadian Industry Minister James Moore has unveiled a new plan to develop the country's space industry in a bid to safeguard Canada's "sovereignty, security and prosperity".

Moore said Friday that Canada's Space Policy Framework will serve as a guideline for the country's strategic space activities and ensure the commercial competitiveness of its space industry in the future, Xinhua reported.

The plan framework noted that "space has become a new frontier not only for science but for commerce," as the global satellite industry revenues exceeded C$190 billion Canadian (US $172 billion) annually.

"Every G20 nation now has its own satellite system in space and the emerging economies have made substantial investments in their national space programmes," the plan framework said, adding that this would bring greater competition for the Canadian space industry as it courted new markets and customers.

"Canada's space industry asked for a change and we recognise the essential role that our space industry plays in keeping Canada's economy on the right track and in maintaining our position as a global leader in space," said Moore.

The official also confirmed support for the James Webb Telescope project, a result of international cooperation involving Canada that is set to be launched in 2018 and will be the most powerful space telescope in the world.

The new plan framework emphasised the role of the private sector and international collaboration to develop the space industry.

But Montreal Liberal Member of Parliament and former astronaut Marc Garneau said the plan framework "resembles" what he proposed a decade ago, criticising the federal Conservative government for cutting the space programme's budget by C$30 million Canadian dollars (US $27 million) last year.

Garneau, however, admitted that it is "a good framework" but the real question lies in implementation.

Canada is known for the Canadarms, robot arms attached to the international space station, and famous astronauts including the first ever Canadian commander of the station, Chris Hadfield.

According to the Canadian Space Agency, the country's space sector generated total revenues of C$3.327 billion (US $3 billion) in 2012.

(Posted on 08-02-2014)

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