Working with allies and partners is a core component of the DND/CAF Joint and Combined Space program. By working closely with allies and partners, the CAF has sought ways to leverage partner capabilities in training and operations, which ensures that we will have continued and uninterrupted access to the space domain to support our operations at home and abroad.
Space capabilities change rapidly in what has become an increasingly congested, contested and competitive environment. Advancing the ties between allies and partners to improve the capabilities of space systems and to enhance their resilience against natural and man-made threats is an ongoing task and an important element of National Defence’s vision for space articulated in Canada’s defence policy.
Collaboration with allies and partners is essential to promoting the responsible use and protection of the space environment. By strengthening coordination, building resiliency, promoting responsible behaviour, and being prepared to defend and protect our capabilities, we improve our national and collective abilities to deter adversary activities. The Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management) (ADM(IM)) works closely with the RCAF to deliver its space based capabilities to ensure that the CAF is well equipped into the future. In addition, ADM(IM) provides space capability sustainment once a project becomes operational. This is to ensure DND/CAF space capabilities remain in good operational health now and into the future.
Canada is a core member of the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) initiative, a “Five Eyes” agreement signed in 2014 which now includes participation from other like-minded nations, France and Germany.
CSpO provides opportunities to enhance cooperation on defence space activities. It aims to increase the resilience of space capabilities, improve operational collaboration, and optimize resources across participating nations. It is also a key venue for discussion of operational policy, legal, and capability issues related to space, and to advance shared objectives.
One example of activities under the CSpO initiative is that Canada operates alongside the US, the UK, and Australia in the multilateral Combined Space Operations Centre (CSpOC) to improve coordination for defensive space efforts. The Canadian Space Operations Centre (CANSpOC), in Ottawa, and the Sensor System Operations Centre (SSOC), in North Bay, help monitor satellite movements and conduct routine collaboration and integration with the CSpOC.
In 2022, Canada and its CSpO allies released Combined Space Operations Vision 2031. This document articulates the group’s mission, illustrates its shared guiding principles, and affirms the joint objectives which guide participants’ national and collective actions.
The CAF collaborates with other government departments in regards to space related matters. National Defence, while leading the defence space policies and programs, maintains a close relationship with the Canadian Space Agency. The Canadian Space Agency provides expert support and is the lead for coordinating Canada’s civil space programs.
The RCAF is proud to count among its number two RCAF pilots who are current astronauts: Colonel Jeremy Hansen and Lieutenant-Colonel Joshua Kutryk, both seconded to the Canadian Space Agency through their astronaut program. Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space and the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, is also a former RCAF member.
The CAF also participates in a number of senior space related governance bodies, and works with Global Affairs Canada (GAC), to optimize whole-of-government space capabilities, promote long-term sustainability guidelines for the use of space, and support international efforts related to space security including in the United Nations’ discussions and efforts to promote the peaceful uses of space. Canada also fully supports the development of the NATO Overarching Space Policy and is a leading voice in drawing attention to the importance of space for NATO.
The CANSpOC and its links to the Government Operations Centre (GOC) coordinates with Public Safety Canada to provide data and analysis related to the re-entry into the atmosphere of man-made objects (both satellites and large debris such as rocket bodies from launches). This allows Public Safety to assess the potential danger of re-entering objects to Canadian citizens and infrastructure in a timely and accurate manner.
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