Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

RASC Victoria Centre wordmark

Victoria Centre is part of the national Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which is dedicated to bringing information about astronomy to the general public.

Advanced Search



May 2003

Chris Gainor

Canada�s space program is nearing a turning point as it enters its fifth decade. Much of the communications satellite work that the government supported in the past has gone to the private sector, the equipment Canada built for the International Space Station is now on orbit or ready to fly, and Canada is about to launch its first scientific satellites since 1971.

Marc Garneau, the former astronaut who now heads the Canadian Space Agency, has proposed a new direction for Canada in space: towards Mars. Canadian firms built some equipment for NASA that went to Mars in 1997 on the Mars Pathfinder mission, and a Canadian experiment is supposed to arrive at Mars early next year on the Japanese Nozomi spacecraft.

Garneau wants Canada to take part in upcoming NASA and European Mars exploration efforts, and perhaps one day include Canadians in human expeditions to the Red Planet.

To start off, he proposed that Canada spend about $200 million to supply drilling and sampling equipment aboard a Mars lander that NASA hopes to launch late in this decade. Unfortunately, the Canadian government turned the proposal down.

It is very unfortunate that the federal government has rejected this proposal, which would help keep Canada in the front ranks of space-faring nations and provide work that builds on our successes with space robotics on the Canadarm.

While the federal government deserves criticism for this decision, it should be tempered with the knowledge that this government has been more generous with technology and scientific research than its predecessors, and it deserves praise for proceeding with some important astronomical research.

But Canada needs to give stronger support to astronomy, space research and space exploration than it does at present.

What is more interesting about this situation is that it has been almost totally ignored by Canadian media. While Garneau�s original proposal to go to Mars got some coverage, the only information I have seen about the rejection of his spending proposals is in American media.

It will be up to people like us to work even harder to put astronomy and space on Canadians� radar screens, and to put pressure on the federal government to give greater support to space research.

� 2010 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre
All text and images are Copyright their respective owners
Victoria Centre adheres to our National Privacy Policy
Website: - Contact us -
Victoria Centre Council
RASC Victoria Centre does not endorse nor is responsible for the content of external websites. External links will open in a new window.
Last updated: February 26, 2010

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is dedicated to the promotion of astronomy and its related sciences; we espouse the scientific method, and support dissemination of discoveries and theories based on that well-tested method.

Welcome to our website!
We would very much appreciate your feedback to
Victoria Centre Council

We are on Facebook

Web hosting & email services donated by
JoeTourist InfoSystems