Contracts awarded for the development of enabling space technologies

The Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) Space Technology Development Program (STDP) supports innovation to grow the Canadian space industry and to reduce technological unknowns of future space missions. Following a request for proposals issued in April 2017, the CSA awarded 14 contracts totalling $9.6M for the development of cutting-edge technologies for a wide variety of future science missions.

$9.6M invested in Canada's space sector in 2017-18 - Infographic

Here is the list of contracts awarded, including organizations, contract values and project descriptions:

Organization Contract value Proposal Objective
ABB Inc.
Quebec City, Quebec
$999,955 Elegant Breadboard of an Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer for Climate Observations

Instruments like the imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer are essential science tools for studying the structure and composition of the atmosphere. They provide data that are used for weather forecasts and climate observations.

This project, which involves participation by the University of Toronto, will build and test an Elegant Breadboard of a nadir viewing imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (iFTS) for near-term capacity demonstration. This will de-risk the technology for future Canadian missions such as AQ/GHG, while simultaneously advancing the technology for a potential contribution to a future geosynchronous platform.

Cambridge, Ontario
$400,000 Elegant Breadboard of the Spectral and Polarization Selection Subsystem for the Aerosol Limb Imager (ALI)

This technology development is aligned with a potential Canadian mission to study the effect of atmospheric aerosols on climate change. Aerosol is currently the greatest unknown in the radiative forcing of our climate, and understanding its impact on climate change and global warming is essential to substantiating climate models.

This contract aims to develop the ALI instrument to enhance Canadian capability and readiness for a future space demonstration mission.

Cambridge, Ontario
$1,334,719 Focal Plane Array for Coastal & Inland Water Colour Hyperspectral Imager

Current operational ocean colour imagers do not provide accurate information in the last few kilometers next to the shore of medium- to small-size water bodies.

The proposed hyperspectral imager will result in an advanced sensor chip that will optimize focal plane array, allowing water colour retrieval along coastlines of medium to small bodies of water and enabling the sensing of over 10 million additional water bodies worldwide. The technology will feature a narrower sampling interval and reduced integration time in order to maximize image quality. The technology is being developed as part of a future Canadian water colour satellite or ocean colour mission.

Cambridge, Ontario
$700,000 Ultraviolet Imager (UVI) Breadboarding, Integration and Characterization

Space weather can have a huge economic impact, as it interferes with essential infrastructure that powers the world.

This contract will support the development of an ultraviolet imaging system to capture data that will improve our understanding of the physical processes that drive space weather.

DPL Science Inc.
St. Lazare, Quebec
$200,000 Total Ionizing Dose Test System using Sr90 Beta Source (Irradiation Chamber Prototype)

Electronics must be thoroughly tested to ensure they can withstand the harsh radiation in space. The capability to test the radiation tolerance of electronics is important to the space industry; developing a faster, cheaper and better testing method is highly desired.

This proposal seeks to design and build a tabletop irradiation chamber prototype that can better respond to the needs of the space industry and improve radiation testing performed on space electronics.

Quebec City, Quebec
$499,959 Experimental Multispectral Imaging Radiometer (EMIR) for Remote Assessment of Fire Characteristics

Space offers a unique vantage point from which to monitor activities on Earth.

With this investment, INO will design and build an imager with enhanced sensor technology to support the measurement and remote monitoring of forest fires.

ITRES Research Limited
Calgary, Alberta
$1,299,846 Coastal & Inland Water Colour Imaging Spectrometer

Canada has one of the largest networks of coastlines and inland waters. Unfortunately, modifications to our climate are negatively affecting these bodies of water. Understanding and quantifying the processes that occur within our natural waters are critical components of water resources management, such as protecting and monitoring water quality, security and oil spoil/pollution event response. However, current ocean colour satellites cannot provide accurate information in the last few kilometers next to the shore and for the large number of medium- to small-size water bodies.

The proposed Dual Imaging Spectrometer COCI Experiment (DICE) system design uses two spectrometers and fore-optics run as one unit, allowing both wide-angle and narrow-angle views. The design will reduce light reflection directly into focal plane arrays. Future Earth Observation and planetary missions, as well as rover payloads, will benefit from this technology.

MDA Corporation
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec
$500,000 Antenna Technologies for Mars Subsurface Radar

Future exploration missions to Mars could use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a microwave remote-sensing technology to conduct surveys beneath its surface.

This contract will develop an Engineering Development Unit, a P-band feed antenna that could be used in a P-Band SAR to assist in mapping water and ice in potential future Mars missions, in order to understand the Mars hydrologic system and how it has changed over time.

MDA Corporation
Brampton, Ontario
$1,700,000 Dexterous Interface and Tool for Planetary and Deep Space

There is an international need to develop technologies capable of supporting deep space and planetary missions that maximize flexibility and adaptability.

MDA will develop a dexterous robotic interface and tool technology that is lunar dust-tolerant and includes high-speed data transfer and mechanisms capable of lunar surface operational and launch loads. This technology will maintain Canada's competitive edge in building space robotic manipulators.

Neptec Design Group Ltd.
Ottawa, Ontario
$974,993 System Mounted Compact Active Sensor Technology (CAST)

Rover navigation is a rapidly evolving technology.

While autonomous rover navigation has been successfully demonstrated, this proposal seeks to develop a miniature, light-independent, 3-D imaging sensor that would further improve rover operations and autonomous navigation either on Earth or on future planetary missions.

Neptec Design Group Ltd.
Ottawa, Ontario
$80,000 Environmental Monitoring System for an Automated Cell Culture Facility

Space flights are known to represent a health risk for astronauts.

This project is linked to the study of the effect of microgravity on the human body, particularly on bone, muscle and vascular cells. Under this contract, Neptec will help develop a new automated cell culture facility to simplify and greatly improve the quality and quantity of information generated by cell studies conducted on the International Space Station or in remote areas on Earth.

Neptec Design Group Ltd.
Ottawa, Ontario
$720,000 Optical Ground Receiver

There is a current trend, on Earth and in space, toward transmitting an increased amount of information at a faster speed.

Neptec, along with partners Thales Alenia Space Switzerland and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), will advance Optical Ground Receiver equipment by fully integrating an optical telescope with an optical terminal in orbit. The proposal builds on previous demonstrations of optical communications, but will elevate the technology from proof-of-concept to full-time operational status. The design will be optimized for the Canadian climate, and the process will conclude with a full downlink demonstration from a satellite.

Future Canadian radar sensing, hyperspectral, weather and communication satellites are potential users of this strategic technology.

Sensoreal Inc.
Montreal, Quebec
$90,000 Nucleic Acid Detection System

Current tests for nucleic acid identification and quantification can only be performed in a laboratory environment.

This contract, which involves participation by the National Research Council Canada, will help develop the next generation of gene regulation testing in the form of a portable, handheld system. This new technology will have applications not only in assessing astronaut immune system function and health during space travel, but also in remote or disaster situations on Earth. Nucleic acid testing can probe for genetic variations linked to cancer, neurological disorders, and development abnormalities.

University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
$100,000 Magnetic Resonance Imaging Instrument for Ankles

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an essential component of Canadian health care, and a tool used in a variety of scientific disciplines.

Under this contract, the University of Saskatchewan will help develop a miniature portable MRI scanner to monitor bones and muscles in astronauts' ankles, an area that is particularly affected by microgravity during long-term spaceflights. A new portable MRI is a tool that will be beneficial for both research and health monitoring.


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