Canada’s 2024 Federal Budget Invests in the Future of the Space Sector

Canadian astronaut in space

Table of Contents

The Canadian government’s 2024 federal budget is looking to boost the country’s space industry. The proposed funding is focused on accelerating national space technology development, fostering cross-sector collaboration, and solidifying Canada’s position as a global leader in space exploration.

This increase in financing is a welcome development for many Canadian space industry experts. Brian Gallant, CEO of Space Canada spoke to CBC News stating that an “investment in space is an investment in Canada.” Gallant explained that “two-thirds of space sector jobs are STEM jobs. These are good paying solid jobs for Canadians. And on top of that, we have approximately $2.8 billion that is injected into the Canadian economy because of the space sector.”

The 2024 budget aims to leverage the massive economic opportunity presented by the space industry by bolstering several key initiatives:

Increased Funding for the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP)

The budget is set to provide $8.6 million in 2024-25 to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP).

LEAP aims to bring government, academia, and commercial entities together “for potential roles in the long-term exploration of the Moon,” and eventually, Mars. The program offers a variety of opportunities for innovation, research, and exploration in lunar orbit and on the Moon’s surface with far-reaching benefits beyond cosmic travel. According to the CSA’s Departmental Plan at a Glance, LEAP also supports space-based solutions to address everyday challenges including enhancing remote healthcare services and improving access to healthy food in remote communities.

The increase in funding for LEAP will also support Canada’s human spaceflight program, including the Artemis II mission that will send an international team, including a Canadian astronaut, around the Moon.

Establishment of the National Space Council

In addition to the LEAP funding, the 2024 budget announced the establishment of a new National Space Council. This whole-of-government approach to space exploration, technology development, and research will enable greater collaboration across commercial, civil, and defense entities.

According to the budget announcement, the National Space Council will help secure Canada’s future as a leader in the global space race by addressing cross-cutting issues and leveraging the country’s space industrial base, workforce, and proven track record of innovation and delivery. Furthermore, it will enable the government to develop more informed national space policies, drive strategic investment in the Canadian space ecosystem, and synchronize space activities across sectors.

Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA Space, spoke to CBC News in support of the council, saying “Canada has an enviable global competitive advantage in space and the creation of a National Space Council is critical to Canada maintaining that leadership position.”

Bolstering Canada’s Space-Based Defense Capabilities

Building on the recent defense policy update, the budget also outlines a series of space-related initiatives aimed at strengthening the country’s defense and surveillance capabilities.

The budget allocates $6.9 billion to modernize Canada’s surveillance systems, including the development of new Arctic and Polar Over the Horizon Radar systems, as well as enhanced space-based surveillance capabilities. These systems will expand the country’s situational awareness of its territory, air, and maritime approaches, with the first of these new systems expected to be operational by 2028, as reported by SpaceQ.

Additionally, the government is investing $4.1 billion in new command and control capabilities, including a modernized aerospace operations center and enhanced Polar communications satellites. These investments will bolster Canada’s ability to coordinate and manage its defense operations from space.

While the total funding for these space-related defense initiatives will be $6.9 billion and $4.1 billion, it’s important to note that only $549.4 million has been allocated for the next four years. During this time, the funding will also be used to support the development of new tactical helicopters, long-range missile capabilities for the Army, airborne early warning aircraft, and other defense investments.

All in all, the 2024 Canadian federal budget is a step forward in advancing the country’s space industry and solidifying its position as a global leader in space exploration and technology. The proposed initiatives demonstrate a strategic commitment to leveraging the economic and scientific benefits of space exploration.

“Space is now a rapidly growing, highly strategic and competitive domain, and there is a real and urgent need to recognize its importance to the lives of Canadians and to our economy and national security,” Greenley, explained.

Looking ahead, stakeholders in the Canadian space industry will need to capitalize on these opportunities, foster innovation, and strengthen international partnerships to realize the full potential of Canada’s space sector.

Image credit: Canadian Space Agency

Share this article:

Keep track of everything going on in the Space Technology Market. In one place.