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Military expert suggests Canada may want to consider its own space force

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President Donald Trump’s push to create a U.S. space force is being welcomed by military experts in Canada, and the executive director of one defence think tank says Canada should consider following suit.

“At some point we might like to think about a space force,” Matthew Overton, executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, said in an interview. “Thinking about space as a separate entity in itself that deserves attention and expertise, I think is a good idea.”

But it is not something that needs to be done immediately, he added, suggesting Canada should first develop a centre of excellence on space knowledge.

Last month, Trump took a first step toward a space force when he signed an order to create a U.S. Space Command, which pulls together space-related units from across military services into a co-ordinated, independent organization.

The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable or even destroy U.S. satellites.

The U.S. air force has operated a space command since 1982, and its mission is “to provide resilient, defendable and affordable space capabilities for the air force.” It also operates the mysterious X-37B space plane, known simply as its orbital test vehicle. The unmanned plane has already completed four clandestine missions, carrying classified payloads on long-duration flights.

Overton, who served in the Canadian Forces for 39 years, noted that Canada’s Air Force already has a space component. It is led by Brigadier General Kevin Whale, Director General Space. Its mission, a spokesman said by email, is “to maintain space domain awareness, and to develop, deliver and assure space-based capabilities.”

Overton said Trump’s space force makes a lot of sense, but he expects there will be tension as the new entity gets down to work with other branches of the military. He gave the example of the GPS network, which is crucial for land, air and sea forces, but could become a space force responsibility.

“What is the relationship with other forces? How do you work out that dynamic?””

Should be part of Norad discussion: Conservative critic

Wayne Ellis, who served in the Canadian military for 20 years, agrees that a U.S. space force is a good idea.

“I think there’s enough activity and potential activity to concentrate resources in that domain, which probably merits a separation from the air force,” Ellis, a past president of the Canadian Space Society, said in an interview.

“Perhaps now is a good opportunity to look at a totally separate branch — at least for the U.S.”

He noted that Canadian military personnel have worked side by side with the U.S. military for decades. “A lot of these positions are actually space positions at various bases so, at some point, our posted personnel are going to be interacting with the U.S. space force as it gets set up,” he added.

James Bezan, the Conservative defence critic, said he wants to see more details about the space capabilities Americans envision.

U.S. president to create Space Force and Space Traffic Management 5:59

“For Canada, my sense is that we need to watch this and see how it evolves,” he said. Before Canada considers creating its own space force, Bezan added, it should focus on making Norad — the bilateral North American Aerospace Defence Command — more effective.

“I would think that any co-operation that we do with the States as it relates to North American defence, as it relates to aerospace, should be part of the Norad discussions,” he said.

Randall Garrison, the NDP defence critic, criticized Trump’s plan to launch a sixth branch of the U.S. military.

“New Democrats are fundamentally opposed to the militarization of space and believe that space should only be used by all of humanity for peaceful purposes,” he wrote in an email.

“New Democrats urge the government of Canada to uphold the principles of peaceful space exploration and to engage with our allies on a renewed call for the drafting of an international treaty aimed at the prevention of an arms race in space.”

Overton pointed out that space has long been exploited for military purposes, and there’s no way it can be avoided.

“Communications satellites, GPS and intelligence communications, you name it — all that is there,” he said.

The office of the Minister of National Defence noted in a statement that “space-based capabilities have become essential to Canada’s operations at home and abroad.

“That is why Canada’s defence policy … commits to investing in a range of space capabilities such as satellite communications, to help achieve global coverage, including the Arctic.”

The statement goes on to say that “Canada will continue to promote the peaceful use of space and provide leadership in shaping international norms for responsible behaviour in space.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

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