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Canadian Space Agency gets $110 million extra grant


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TORONTO (BNS): The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) got an additional grant of $110 million spread over the next three years. But, experts reveal that the grant will actually replenish a decreasing budget.

CSA president and former astronaut Steve McLean who provided the government with a strategic review of its programmes played a key role in getting the grant. “The CSA is being directed to allocate this money toward the development of terrestrial prototypes for space robotic vehicles such as Mars or Lunar lander and to further develop other technologies and space robotics,” he said.

McLean said that the additional grant was welcome, as the CSA had been seeking increases to do more in strategic areas such as space robotics. “In last year’s government Report on Plans and Priorities, the CSA's Space Science and Exploration programme activity had been scheduled to take the brunt of the budget cuts going from $115.4 million in 2008-2009 to $79.6 million in $2010-2011. This represents a 32% reduction in what was classified as the CSA's number to 2 priority programme activity. If you replenish the Space Science and Exploration budget to 2008-2009 levels you are then left with a net gain of $64.3 million of the $100.1 million new money the government allocated to the CSA,” he said.

The new grant has been sanctioned when the agency was actually taking a cut in its budget from $368.2 million in 2008-2009 to $348.3 million for 2009-2010 and then down to $332.2 million for 2010-2011. The agency will cut an additional $9.9 million from its existing budgets in the next three years to increase efficiency and effectiveness by collaborating more closely with academia and industry bringing the net gain to $100.1 million. The fresh grant will be used for development of advanced robotics and other space technologies with $20 million earmarked for 2009-2010, $60 million for 2010-2011 and the balance, $30 million for 2011-2012.

In times of economic recession, the Conservative government restoring increased funding is mainly due to CSA’s untiring work. This will help Canada to move ahead. The next CSA Report on Plans and Priorities 2009-2010 estimates is expected to be released on March 26.

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