Developing a Role for Small Satellites in the Canadian Forces

Abstract

Space-based capabilities are playing an ever-increasing role in support of military operations. The issue faced by many nations is evaluating how space-based capabilities best suit their own needs, and how to acquire these capabilities, either by indigenous development within the nation’s resources, or through international leveraging with partners and allies. Traditionally, many nations such as Canada have not had the resources to invest in indigenous military satellites. A significant reason for this is the high cost and long development time required to benefit from a satellite mission. In recent years, however, satellite technology has become more affordable, space-based capabilities are now within reach to an increasing number of military organizations – the challenge is to determine what space-based applications make sense to invest in. Just as important is also creating a positive environment such that new space-based proposals are accepted. This can be a significant obstacle as many have become apprehensive towards satellite programs when faced with the choice of funding space-based initiatives against more familiar technologies. Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) is addressing these issues, defining the role of spacebased capabilities, in concert with other terrestrial capabilities, to provide the Canadian Forces with an appropriate, effective suite of technologies that best meets national and deployed operational needs. This paper will outline DRDC’s efforts towards developing a sustainable small satellite program. Current research and development initiatives will be presented including two microsatellite demonstration missions currently underway. The benefit of partnership with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and other Allied programs will be reviewed along with the future possibilities of leveraging NATO collaborations. Finally, a discussion will be presented outlining a strategy to best influence positive change and acceptance within the Canadian Forces to adopt space-based technologies as a routine capability generator. 1.0 INTRODUCTION Canadian defence research and development (R&D) has been involved in space from the very start of Canadian atmospheric and satellite research, beginning in the 1930s and contributing to the first Canadian satellite, Alouette. Defence R&D has, however, had significant ebbs and tides in its support to space over the years, largely reflecting the priorities of the Canadian military at the time. Although Canada has maintained expertise in niche technologies such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR), the Canadian military has had to rely upon commercial or allied military satellite systems due to the extreme resource commitments required to Spaans, A.; Bédard, D. (2006) Developing a Role for Small Satellites in the Canadian Forces. In Emerging and Future Technologies for Space Based Operations Support to NATO Military Operations (pp. 15-1 – 15-14). Meeting Proceedings RTO-MP-RTB-SPSM-001, Paper 15. Neuilly-sur-Seine, France: RTO. Available from: http://www.rto.nato.int/abstracts.asp. RTO-MP-RTB-SPSM-001 15 1 UNCLASSIFIED/UNLIMITED Report Documentation Page Form Approved OMB No. 0704-0188 Public reporting burden for the collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington VA 22202-4302. Respondents should be aware that notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to a penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information if it does not display a currently valid OMB control number. 1. REPORT DATE 01 DEC 2006 2. REPORT TYPE N/A 3. DATES COVERED 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Developing a Role for Small Satellites in the Canadian Forces 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Spaans2008DevelopingAR, title={Developing a Role for Small Satellites in the Canadian Forces}, author={M. A. Spaans and Donald B{\'e}dard}, year={2008} }