Lab Canada

Leading space technology projects get $10.3M in funding

Longueuil, QC – The design of new space technologies and applications is the focus of $10.3 million in funding from the federal government for 36 research and development contracts.

The contracts were awarded through the Canadian Space Agency’s space technology development program. The 36 companies will develop a range of space technologies, including:

– Guidance, navigation and control software to improve the autonomy, safety and reliability of space systems;
– Refinements of a new satellite concept for sensing land surface types, which could be used for studying the environment and monitoring our natural resources;
– Near instantaneous distress alerts to reduce search and rescue response times, even in the far North; and
– A feasibility study for an instrument that measures water content of soil without touching it, which could be used for exploration of Mars or other planets.

Investment in long-term space technology research and development is key to the success of the Canadian space industry in the next decade. This support maintains a level playing field, since other countries invest heavily in their own areas of industry expertise and technologies are evolving quickly.

The projects that received funding are as follows:

– AUG Signals, Toronto, ON; A Novel Approach to Fusion of Hyperspectral Features and Algorithms for Improved Detection and Classification; AUG Signals will develop an advanced data-processing technology for enhancing the data quality of space-borne sensors. Hyperspectral imagery will be the focus of the inquiry, but the framework and methodology of the research will be applicable to other sensor types. Improved detection and classification is useful for a variety of applications including environmental monitoring, natural resource management, agriculture, and military/defence. Value: $128,344

– ABB Bomem, Qubec, QC; Compact Imaging Spectrometer Phase 2; ABB Bomem will validate the functionality and the performance of an extremely compact and lightweight interferometer module when it is coupled to a thermal infrared camera. This project will address the technology’s ability to acquire spectral data cubes, and to maintain good wave front quality in realistic application environments. It will demonstrate suitability of the compact interferometer for use in a hyperspectral thermal imaging spectrometer. Value: $500,000

– ABB Bomem, Qubec, QC; Development of a MEMS-based Spectrometer for Water Content and Chirality Measurement in Space Programs; ABB will determine the feasibility of an instrument that simultaneously measures water content and the presence of chiral molecules in soil on Mars and other planets. This instrument will help in the preliminary analysis of possible biological compounds on site without contact and without any chemical reactant. Improvement of the in-situ pre-selection of significant exobiological samples will extend the operational lifetime of more sophisticated systems. This very rugged instrument will require low resources (mass, power, volume) and could be integrated with various mission concepts. Value: $150,000

– Advantech Satellite Networks, Saint-Laurent, QC; Adaptive Coding and Modulation Satellite Networks with Optimized Quality of Service; Advantech Satellite Networks will enable and enhance the commercial application of the powerful adaptive coding and modulation techniques previously developed for enterprise solutions. These were based on the DVB-RCS (digital video broadcast return channel satellite) two-way satellite standard. The project will enable certain improvements in the cost effectiveness of such systems. This endeavour is for the development of resource management techniques that ensure quality of service and service level agreements in DVB-RCS networks employing adaptive transmission techniques. Value: $500,000

– Blakemere Technologies, Montreal, QC; Agile IP Layer Traffic Control for DVB-RCS and DVB-S2; Blakemere Technologies will develop a bandwidth management device that is suitable for performing Layer 3 traffic control within DVB-RCS and DVB-S2 based networks (digital video broadcast return channel satellite, and second generation digital video broadcast). The device is to address aspects of classifying traffic, partitioning bandwidth and enforcing service level agreements, while providing a configuration interface that is agile enough to accommodate the use of advanced coding and modulation under DVB-S2. ; The device will significantly reduce costs and improve capabilities for vendors and integrators of any Internet-over-satellite system, including systems based on DVB-RCS using either DVB-S or DVB-S2. In particular, the device will enable the exploitation of bandwidth efficiencies offered by DVB-S2. Value: $149,930

– Blue Sky Spectroscopy, Lethbridge, AB; Data Processing Algorithms for Space-based Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometers; Blue Sky Spectroscopy will develop and evaluate a novel mid-infrared hyper-spectral imaging spectrometer for remote sensing applications. This technology will provide a unique spectral window for Earth Observation projects related to forestry, oceanography, meteorology, geology, mineral exploration, resource management, and environmental monitoring; Value: $149,640

– Bristol Aerospace, Winnipeg, MB; Model Based Smallsat Autonomy; Bristol will develop and demonstrate small satellite autonomy technologies in three targeted areas: on-board mission task scheduling, on-board fault recovery, and on-board sensor calibration. After low-fidelity simulation of the technologies, the preferred strategies will then progress to high-fidelity simulations with some actual hardware using existing facilities modified to accommodate project-specific hardware. Value: $339,779

– COM DEV International, Cambridge, ON; Advanced Radio Frequency Surface Acoustic Wave-Based Electronic Modules; COM DEV will develop advanced packaging and processing techniques. These will result in substantial mass, cost, and schedule reductions for future production modules. COM DEV will also develop four new functional building blocks to deploy advanced packaging techniques (which are core components for future SAW-based processors) to better meet the needs of transparent, regenerative, and flexible multi-beam payload architectures in the next-generation payloads. This project will improve the mass and size, as well as cost and schedule, of existing product building block functional elements. Value: $499,864

– COM DEV International, Cambridge, ON; Advanced Test Capabilities for Multi Beam and GNSS Payloads and Subsystems; COM DEV plans to develop test capabilities for subsystems and payloads for high performance navigation payloads and the next generation of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) equipment. Once developed, these new capabilities will form a solid base for COM DEV to address the markets of the new generation GNSS and communications satellites. Value: $500,000

– COM DEV International, Cambridge, ON; Compact Redundancy Switches for Flexible Payloads; COM DEV will develop a novel topology using highly miniaturized actuators combined with an optimized microwave circuit for a redundancy switch network. The resulting networks will be simpler and more compact than existing products that employ discrete components, potentially yielding a 60% mass reduction and commensurate volume reduction. Value: $500,000

– COM DEV International, Cambridge, ON; High Power Wideband Switch Technology Development; COM DEV will develop a waveguide switch that can be used anywhere in a communication satellite, improving satellite reliability, enhancing radio frequency performance, and also resulting in lower costs and reduced cycle time for the satellite payload integrator. This technology could be used in the waveguide switches required for transmit switching networks. Value: $500,000

– COM DEV International, Cambridge, ON; Tuneable Filters for Flexible Payloads; COM DEV will develop the critical elements for a new class of
microwave filter: one that is tuneable on-orbit, over centre frequency and bandwidth, so that flexible payloads are possible for the next generation of communication satellites. This technology can be used for flexible payload satellites that would retain and expand Canadian global market share, while providing the best possible technical solutions for next generation Canadian commercial, government and military communications satellites. Value: $500,000

– COM DEV International, Cambridge, ON; Verification of a Pointing Mirror System for Ground Motion Compensation; COM DEV will demonstrate a space-qualifiable design of a pointing mirror system, suitable for performing the ground motion compensation for the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT-2) instrument. The MOPITT-2 program has baselined such a mechanism, and the proposed work will reduce the risk for this program and other future science missions. Value: $345,275

– EION, Ottawa, ON ; Adaptive Capacity Optimization for Multiple Beam Satellite Systems; EION will provide the world’s first intelligent optimization emulator for multiple spot-beam bandwidth management with quality of service. With this technology, satellite communications operators can deliver advanced services centred on capacity planning and quality of service without incurring large capital expenses. It will also introduce a significant differentiating technology to the satellite industry that will revolutionize spot-beam management. Value: $150,000

– EMS Space and Technology, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC; Low Voltage Electronic Power Conditioner for Space Application; EMS Space and Technology proposes to develop a low voltage EPC (1.5 V to 3.3 V electronic power conditioner) up to an engineering model level of hardware, to provide solutions for new requirements in the point-of-load (POL) DC/DC converters that power spacecraft digital electronics. Value: $360,677

– EMS Space and Technology, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC; Study of Digital Power Controller for Electronic Power Conditioner; EMS proposes to evaluate the capabilities and potential of the emerging digital electronic power conditioning technology for a new generation of space-level electronic power conditioners. The technology includes high-speed analog-to-digital converters (ADC), a high-speed digital signal processor (DSP), and digital power controllers that have integrated many of the functions required for digital control of an electronic power conditioner. Value: $138,800

– EMS Technologies Canada, Ottawa, ON; MEOSAR Digital Beam-Forming Antenna; EMS SATCOM will design a highly sophisticated, compact, digital beam forming, multi-faced active phased-array antenna for the MEOSAR system. This antenna will produce the large number of simultaneous tracking beams required to obtain data for accurately resolving beacon locations. It will also provide the ability to adaptively nullify sources of interference. The MEOSAR system will radically reduce search and rescue response times by providing near instantaneous distress alerts globally, even in the far North. Value: $500,000

– Flywheel Energy Systems, Nepean, ON; Mk5 Flywheel Rotor Accelerated Life Testing (Continuation); Flywheel Energy Systems will evaluate the effects of cyclic fatigue and accumulated damage on a scale version of the Mk5 flywheel rotor. Three of these flywheel rotors will be delivered to Honeywell Engines, Systems and Services, who will use the flywheel rotors to build up three flywheel systems for a ground demonstration of an integrated power and attitude control system (IPACS). The work will be augmented by rotor-accelerated life cycle testing projects supported by Honeywell and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Value: $150,000

– GAIN Microwave, Ottawa, ON; The Evaluation of Gallium Nitride Technology for Application in Single Stage Power Amplifiers (SSPAs); The overall objective of this program is to undertake a preliminary evaluation of current gallium nitride semiconductor technology for potential application in MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) high power amplifiers for space applications. The evaluation will be carried out through: characterization of devices representative of the current start-of-the-art; design of devices optimized for power applications and characterization of test structures; a study of the current status of technology; an evaluation of the commercial potential; and an evaluation of the potential for application of gallium nitride SSPAs for space applications. Where appropriate, the technology program will leverage existing Canadian expertise in gallium nitride material and device technology. Value: $149,687

– INO (National Optics Institute), Sainte-Foy, QC; Radiometric Packaging for Uncooled Bolometric 512 x 3 Pixel IR FPA; INO will design a radiometric package to be integrated with a 512 x 3 pixel microbolometer focal plane array (FPA), sensitive in the midand long-wave infrared part of the spectrum, which has been designed, fabricated and tested under a previous CSA contract. This package will extend significantly the application range for the FPA to absolute temperature measurement and radiometry. The state-of-the-art combination of the FPA and radiometric package will provide a combination of high performance, low cost, light weight, small size and low power consumption that’s ideal for the micro-/nano-satellite context. Value: $204,622

– McGill University, Montral, QC; Hypervelocity Launcher for Laboratory Testing of Orbital Debris and Micrometeoroid Impact; McGill University will develop a new technology for accelerating one-centimetre objects to velocities in the 10-to-15-kilometre-per-second range, so that the vulnerability of spacecraft structures to hypervelocity impact can be directly measured in the laboratory. Canadian industries and institutional laboratories involved in the design, manufacture, and testing of spacecraft and spacecraft components would utilize this technology. Value: $140,000

– MDA, Brampton, ON; On-Board Stereo Vision (OBSV); MDA will develop novel computer-vision algorithms for estimating the pose of known satellites using their three-dimensional models and images from stereo cameras. This project will change the current operating mode of space vision systems from “acquire the pose once and track using previously computed pose” to “acquire pose continuously.” It will also increase the reliability of system operations. Value: $400,000

– MDA, Halifax, N.S. SDR-based High-Speed Architecture for Reconfigurable Payloads; MDA will build upon their existing software-defined radio (SDR) capability to develop a proof-of-concept for a high-speed reconfigurable satellite receiver. This receiver will be specifically developed to work with future missions incorporating reconfigurable payload technology, with the added advantage of working with a large number of existing and planned payloads. Value: $150,000

– MDA, Montral, Qc. In-Orbit Reconfigurable Antennas; MDA will identify and analyze a commercially and technically viable hybrid antenna configuration. MDA believes that the completion of this development program will enable new business models and applications, and will help maintain Canada’s leading role in the rapidly evolving market of broadband flexible satellite payloads. Other applications include emergency response, national security, and geoclusters. This capability will distinguish MDA strategically and help maintain its leading edge in antenna products. Value: $150,000

– MDA, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec; Underactuated Versatile End Effector; The future plans of all space agencies around the world contain significant portions dedicated to robotics. Current end effectors and designs (shuttle remote manipulator system end effectors and latching end effectors, and special purpose dextrous manipulator orbital tool changeout mechanisms) are all very specialized units that can only grapple highly specialized fixtures. Whether it is to service Earth orbiting satellites, to perform remote exploration or t
o prepare the terrain for manned missions to the Moon or Mars, there is always a need for an end effector that is more versatile than the current versions. It could grapple objects of different shapes and forms instead of specific grapple fixtures. This project will determine the configuration of a very flexible, underactuated robotic hand developed at Universit Laval (Laval Hand) that will most likely be used in space missions and design it using space materials, processes, marg

– MPB Communications, Pointe-Claire, QC; Integrated Miniature Instrument Suite for Planetary Explorers using a high-sensitivity Binary-Coded Infrared Spectral Processor; MPB Communications will develop a laboratory breadboard of an instrument suite for Mars lander or rover platforms. The instrument suite could be interfaced with robotic drilling and sample handling equipment to provide onsite support analysis of the extracted samples (rock specimens and/or soil) and some in-situ bore-hole analysis capability. Value: $399,936

– MPB Communications, Pointe-Claire, QC; Miniature FP/IOSPEC High-Resolution Integrated-Optic Infrared Spectrometer for Planetary Atmospheric Studies and Earth Observation; MPB Communications will prototype an innovative spectrometer concept that combines the broadband spectral operation of MPB’s patent-pending compact IOSPEC IR guided-wave spectrometers, with advanced, narrow-band tuneable Fabry-Perot technologies. This will provide a miniature, high-resolution spectrometer weighing under 2.5 kg for accommodation on a low-cost microsatellite platform. Value: $149,912

– Neptec Design Group, Ottawa, ON; 3Di Hybrid Processing; Neptec will address shortcomings of available sensor technology for autonomous rendezvous and docking as part of a larger strategy towards developing smart sensor technology for a variety of space and terrestrial applications. This project builds upon the CSA-funded TECSAS stereovision feasibility project, where the first attempt was performed to combine Neptec’s Three Dimensional Intelligence (3Di) tracking algorithms with Xiphos’ Q-Card. Value: $500,000

– NGC Aerospace, Sherbrooke, QC; FFSAT (Coupled Attitude and Orbit GNC Algorithms for Small Satellites in Formation); The concept of satellites flying in close formation is an emerging space technology that has great potential for future scientific and communication missions. NGC Aerospace will develop guidance, navigation and control (GNC) algorithms for autonomously performing the coupled attitude/translation manoeuvres on small satellites in a formation-flight mission in the most complex orbital environment, that is, eccentric orbit with perturbations. Value: $150,000

– NGC Aerospace, Sherbrooke, QC; LOCOOS (Low-Cost Orbit and Orientation State Estimation); Project’s goal is to develop a highly reliable, low-cost, low-mass, primary navigation system for micro/nano/pico satellites which could also be used in a back-up/degraded mode aboard a larger, commercial satellite. Value: $146,500

– Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT), Sudbury, ON; A Drill Unit Superstructure and Rod Handling System in Support of a Class N or M (1.5to 15-metre) Subsurface Sampling Drill; NORCAT will advance drill superstructure, drill rod handling, and autonomy, towards a low mass and power efficient design that could be used for various planetary exploration scenarios. This project will further develop critical components and subsystems in preparation for development and testing. Value: $525,000

– Passat, Toronto, ON; Pico-Second Compact Laser Emitter for Space Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy; Passat will develop a pico-second laser source with an output power of 10 MW and pulse repetition rate of up to 100 Hz, and with low power consumption, weight, and volume. This laser is intended for future missions to Mars, the Moon, possible asteroids, or to artificial space stations-missions involving rovers with a light laser for induced breakdown spectroscopy. Value: $399,999

– Sensor Technology, Collingwood, ON; Development of a Miniature Piezoelectric Motor for Space Applications; Sensor Technology will develop innovative ultrasonic micro-motors for robotic end effectors to be used in space. They will review scientific and patent literature to identify the most promising concepts, design a micro-motor and electronic system, fabricate hardware, and characterize prototype devices. Value: $150,000

– Telesat Canada, Gloucester, ON; Dynamic Traffic Management for Broadband Spot Beam Satellites; Telesat Canada will assess algorithms and protocols for the management of traffic in advanced on-board satellite and associated ground terminals and test their performance on software emulators, thereby reducing associated uncertainties prior to finalizing designs for the next major Canadian satellite launch. The project is critical in the development of advanced spacecraft payloads and hubless distributed intelligence ground segments. Value: $500,000

– University of Toronto, Toronto, ON; Refining the Concept of Combining Hyperspectral and Multi-angle Sensors for Land Surface Applications; The University of Toronto will refine a current hyperspectral remote-sensing measurement strategy by testing a system that acquires hyperspectral signals in the nadir direction, but also measures in two additional directions in two spectral bands. This system could be used as an additional feature to the proposed Hyperspectral Environmental and Resource Observer (HERO) Mission or may be considered by other land observation missions for acquiring vegetation structure information. Such an advanced technology may improve how the biophysical and biochemical parameters of vegetation are derived. Value: $128,000

– York University, Toronto, ON; Slab Waveguide Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer; York University, in collaboration with the National Research Council Canada Institute for Microstructural Sciences and COM DEV International, will design and simulate a detailed slab waveguide implementation of the Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer (SHS) technology, at the same wavelengths as used in the Spatial Heterodyne Observations of Water (SHOW) instrument. This new slab waveguide technology would significantly simplify and reduce resource requirements of the SHOW instrument by etching the main spectrometer onto a small, thin silicon wafer. Value: $132,140