The Canadian Space Program: At the Crossroads
Space: The Final Frontier. Why are entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson fixated on space travel, yet Canada, with advanced technologies such as Canadarm, seems to be at a standstill with its national space vision? A new generation of international entrepreneurs are looking to change the world through new investments in space, and Canada needs to take part.
As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, please join us for a review of the past and industrial perspectives on how the future of the Canadian space program can be changed for the better. What are the possibilities that innovation and entrepreneurship can bring? What is the potential for our nation?
In 1962, Canada’s Alouette 1 was launched, establishing Canada as the third nation to launch a satellite after the Soviet Union and the United States. This initiated Canada into a new Space Age. With timely investments by the federal government, Canada became a leading spacefaring nation, driving innovation through space programs that spurred the development of space industry leaders in telecommunications, earth observation, exploration and science. Early visionary leaders recognized that Canada’s huge land mass and extensive coastline made space a key enabler for Canada’s socio-economic development. Space capabilities play a role in the daily life of almost every Canadian today, and are key to our economic well-being, sovereignty and security. As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary as a nation, it is time to reflect on the past and look to improving the Canadian space program for the future.
Special Guest Speaker
Michael Pley, Electrical Eng. & Mgmt. ‘83
About Michael Pley, Electrical Eng. & Mgmt. ‘83
Mr. Pley retired in 2016 as CEO after a thirty-year career with COM DEV International Ltd. of Cambridge, Ontario. COM DEV (now Honeywell) is one of the world’s leading space manufacturers, having supplied equipment to over 900 spacecraft, including 80% of all communications satellites ever launched, and its 1250 employees in 7 locations around the world have supplied equipment to every major spacecraft manufacturer and space agency. Mr. Pley continues to provide consulting services to space companies and technology SMEs and is the current Chair of the Space Committee of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), the leading advocacy voice for the aerospace industry in Canada. The AIAC has submitted a white paper as an input to the federal government’s Innovation Agenda, entitled: “The Future of Canada’s Space Sector; An Engine of Innovation For Over Fifty Years.”
Education and Professional Accreditation
- B.Eng. & Mgmt., McMaster University, 1983
- Professional Engineer (P.Eng.), Professional Engineers Ontario, 1987
- Chartered Director (C.Dir.), The Directors College (a joint venture of McMaster and the Conference Board of Canada), 2011
- Member, Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Aerospace Industry Association of Canada (AIAC), and Chair of the AIAC’s Space Committee, 2014-Present
- Chair, Dean’s Advisory Board (DAB), Faculty of Engineering, McMaster University, 2016-Present (member of DAB since 2002)
- Inaugural recipient of McMaster’s L.W.Shemilt Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award, 2006
- Appointed as Member, Ontario Manufacturing Council, 2011-2012
- Appointed as Member of Advisory Board for Waterloo Region Economic Development Strategy, 2014
- CEO and Executive Member of the Board of Directors of COM DEV International Ltd. (TSX-listed), 2010-2016
- Chair, Board of Directors of exactEarth Ltd., a new space JV start-up, 2010-2016