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Developing a Role for Small Satellites in the Canadian Forces

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Conference paper

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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 nations 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. 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 space-based 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 DRDCs 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.

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  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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