Canada Reaffirms Commitment to ISS
Today the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) reaffirmed it's commitment to the International Space Station beyond 2015. The details include another 5 years of confirmed support from Canada until 2020. The announcement was made while the heads of the worlds five largest space agencies meet this week in Quebec City to discuss the future of the ISS. This is great news for the ISS and for Canada. With Canadian industry heavily involved with ISS robotics and research, the private sector is equally excited about today's announcement.
There was lots of specualtion as to why Canada's space agency seemed to be dragging their feet prior to recomitting to the ISS. In particular, most International Space Station partner countries had recommited much earlier. Some have suggested that the Canadian Space Agency was negotiating to have more Canadian astronaut participation on Space Station missions. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will travel to the ISS for a six-month stay as Mission Commander at the end of 2012. Beyond Hadfield, there are currently no further missions schedule for Canadian astronaut before the end of this decade. Further speculation for Canada's delayed response was based on looming spending cuts anticipated from the federal government.
Aside from committing to the International Space Station until 2020, the Canadian Space Agency also unveiled two unique space projects. One is Microflow, and the other is Lab on a CD. Both are designed to rapidly accelerate the diagnosis of patients both on Earth and in space.
The official press release from the Canadian Space Agency is attached below.
Photo Credit: CSA
Québec City, Quebec, February 29, 2012 – The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, today announced Canada’s intention to renew its commitment to the International Space Station (ISS). Alongside Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency, Minister Paradis also unveiled two unique space projects, Microflow and Lab on a CD, designed to accelerate how patients are diagnosed, in space and on Earth.
"We are helping to maintain Canada’s leadership in space technology and its every day critical applications", declared Minister Paradis. "Jobs and growth are a top priority for our Government. We also recognize that maintaining Canada’s place in technology leadership is part of the solution for economic growth and prosperity."
"State-of-the-art medical technology is an area in which our country can become a world leader," added Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency. "The technology solutions that provide a rapid medical diagnosis for an astronaut onboard the International Space Station could one day be standard equipment in your doctor’s office."
Canada has been a proud partner of the International Space Station since 1998. The ISS allows scientists and engineers to discover entirely new materials, and processes. As a permanent space laboratory, the ISS enables research to be conducted in a variety of fields such as life sciences, materials, Earth observation and astronomy. Canada’s contributions to the ISS include the sophisticated technologies like the Mobile Servicing System (MSS)..
Lab on a CD and Microflow, will use space as a test environment to develop smaller, cheaper, and faster medical technology that can process and analyze medical samples aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Lab on a CD, a project led by Dr. Michel G. Bergeron of the Infectious Disease Research Centre at Laval University, is a prototype of an ultrafast, highly sensitive and fully automated medical diagnostic test unit. The technology is close to a major breakthrough: real-time diagnostics of infectious diseases at the patient’s point of care. Lab on a CD can perform sophisticated genetic analysis of samples in just minutes. With $150,000 in funding from the Canadian Space Agency, Dr. Bergeron and his team have successfully tested the technology in microgravity during parabolic flights. Supported by Canada’s Cooperation Agreement with the European Space Agency, the project has received $1.1 million to carry out the development of this prototype through the European Life and Physical Sciences Program. Through this program the project is currently developing a concept for a system that will perform bioanalysis on the ISS.
Microflow is a technology demonstration platform developed by the National Optics Institute (INO). Following an initial investment of $300,000 for testing, the Canadian Space Agency awarded INO a contract of $2.3 million in 2011 to design, build, and test the first generation of a transportable flow cytometer for use on the ISS. Flow cytometers are used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical applications to diagnose health disorders. The goal of Microflow is to test INO’s novel fibre-optic approach, enabling the realization of a miniaturized, portable and robust cytometer technology. This technology is ideal for use in space and in-field terrestrial bioanalysis. The Microflow test platform will be introduced on the ISS with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, in December 2012.