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The Canadian Space Agency

The Canadian Space Agency
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The Canadian Space Agency (CSA or, in French, l'Agence spatiale canadienne, ASC) is the Canadian government space agency responsible for Canada's space program. It was established in March 1989 by the Canadian Space Agency Act and sanctioned in December 1990. The Chief Executive Officer of the agency is the President who reports to the Minister of Industry.

The headquarters of the CSA is located at John H. Chapman Space Centre in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. The agency also has offices in Ottawa, Ontario at the David Florida Laboratory (which is mainly an engineering installation) and small liaison offices in Washington, D.C., Paris, France, Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Houston, Texas.

The agency is a relatively modest federal establishment, with only 575 employees and a rotating student population of about 100 interns or summer workers. Most of the staff is at the Chapman Centre.



With the launch of Alouette 1 in 1962 Canada became the third country to launch a man-made satellite into space. The mission was a big success; although it was only expected to last for one year, it lasted for ten. This prompted further study of the ionosphere with the international ISIS program, which in 1993 was designated an International Milestone of Electrical Engineering by IEEE.

Another Canadian first was the launch of Anik A-1 in 1972, making Canada the first country in the world to have its own domestic geostationary communication satellite network.


Mission and Mandate

The Canadian Space Agency Act is the Act of the Parliament of Canada which established the Canadian Space Agency. The Act received royal assent on May 10, 1990 and came into force on December 14, 1990. See the full text. The legislated mandate of the CSA is:

"To promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians".
The Canadian Space Agency's mission statement says that the agency is committed to leading the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

To achieve this, the CSA attempts to promote an environment where all levels of the organization:

  • pursue excellence collectively
  • advocate a client-oriented attitude
  • support employee-oriented practices and open communications
  • commit themselves to both empowerment and accountability and
  • pledge to cooperate and work with partners to mutual benefit

Cooperation with other national agencies

The Mobile Servicing System (MSS)

The CSA has several formal and informal partnerships and collaborative programs or agreements with space agencies in other countries, such as NASA, ESA and JAXA, and perhaps soon the CNSA.

Since January 1, 1979 Canada has had the special status of a cooperating state with the ESA, paying for the privilege and also investing in working time and providing scientific instruments which are placed on European probes. On June 21, 2000 the accord was renewed for a fourth period, this time for 10 years. By virtue of this accord Canada takes part in ESA deliberative bodies and decision-making and in ESA's programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision specifically ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada.

The CSA visited the China National Space Administration in October 2005 and planned to reach a deal soon to put Canadian scientific instruments in two Chinese satellites. There was also speculation about China in the future perhaps wanting the Canadarm2 technology for its planned space station, but the CNSA has not raised the possiblity yet.

Published on: 2004-08-05 (13083 reads)

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