Idea alert

by Aaron Wherry

Marc Garneau proposes a mission to Mars.

I’m talking about a robotic mission. Except for the launch part. We would need another nation’s involvement for the rocket part and we would share the information obtained in exchange. But wouldn’t it be great if an all-Canadian payload was launched to Mars to do some first-class science? The Americans are the only ones who’ve ever done it successfully. Canada could do that. It would be a great challenge because we’ll need more robotic missions before we send humans. Canada has the capability and this could be really inspiring … I can tell you, being a politician and being an ex-president of the Canadian Space Agency, I would take the CSA very seriously. And I would promote it because it’s a winner, it’s a money-maker. It’s an area where Canada is strong technically and it’s underexploited. And we can do great things. We can inspire.




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Idea alert

  1. At long last, a 21st century program….now this is something I would fully support…..!

    • Except if the Conservatives were proposing it.  Then you wouldn’t.

      • Again, you are simply partisan, while I’m concerned with our future

        If Cons proposed this, I would certainly support it

        I would, however, be in shock, since they seem only interested in things that are ancient history.

        • You admitted here the other day that you have not supported a single, solitary thing that the Conservatives have ever done or proposed — including, remarkably, the apology for residential schools.

          So res ipsa loquitur.

          • Which had what….exactly….to do with the knowledge economy, science or space?

            Ire fortiter quo nemo ante iit

  2. Why do we need this program? Government is already spending an enormous money it doesn’t have, we don’t need even more useless programs that don’t do anything in particular.

    Also, maybe Canada is being left behind on great idea to do first class science. Are we part of this joint venture already or does Garneau want us to pay for, and build, our own technology?

    The joint Mars exploration envisioned by the US and Europe is set for an overhaul, following an announcement by the Americans that their part of the budget is critically short of funds.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12676289

    • “Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments,” Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus, A.D. 10.

      Irish scientist, Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793 – 1859) didn’t believe that trains could contribute much in speedy transport. He wrote: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers ‘ would die of asphyxia’ .”  
       
      “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction”.
      – Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
       
      “The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon”.
      – Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

      In 1894, the president of the Royal Society, Lord Kelvin, predicted that radio had no future. The first radio factory was opened five years later. He also predicted that heavier-than-air flying machines were impossible.

      In 1894, A.A. Michelson, who with E.W. Morley seven years earlier experimentally demonstrated the constancy of the speed of light, said that the future of science would consist of “adding a few decimal places to the results already obtained.

      “I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years … Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.”  Wilbur Wright, 1908

      Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.
        
      “Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”
      – 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work.

      Albert Einstein, 1932There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.

      U.S. Secretary of Navy, December 4, 1941No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping. 

      “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
      – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943 
       
      “64K ought to be enough for anybody.”
      – Bill Gates, 1981
       
      “$100 million dollars is way too much to pay for Microsoft.”
      – IBM, 1982

      • to paraphrase Isaac Asimov: Of what use is a baby?

        • Very nice!  Thank you!

      • Those were great, Emily!  Thanks!

    • … like NASA’s [entire!] budget isn’t near as big as what the US is spending on air conditioning tents in the desert

      • American priorities are all screwed up.  I had hoped ours would be different.

  3. If it was such a money maker, why isn’t private business jumping on it.

    Ah, we can just believe that it is a money maker, so that the taxpayers will fund it.

    • They are in the US….in Canada we don’t take risks on anything

      RIM tried that, remember?

      • RIM has nothing to do with anything even close to what we are talking about.

        You mentioned risk, as in ‘might make money, might not’. In the article, Marc seems to think that there is no risk – that it is a money maker.

        You proved my point – it might not make money, yet here we have someone jumping up and down for tax dollars to fund it.

        • You simply believe in magic….that a country can do great things without ever spending a nickel, or taking a risk.

  4. “I can tell you, being a politician and being an ex-president of the Canadian Space Agency, I would take the CSA very seriously. And I would promote it because it’s a winner, it’s a money-maker.”

    Money maker for Quebec, maybe, but not for the rest of Canada who actually have to pay for it. 

    “Canadian aerospace, space and defence firms, have built successful businesses in Canada for domestic and global markets.”

    http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ad-ad.nsf/eng/home

    “Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney and MDA are among the jewels in Canada’s aerospace crown, employing tens of thousands of people, but experts warn that success comes at a steep price to taxpayers.

    The Fraser Institute, a fiscally-conservative research agency, says Quebec-based aerospace firms are far and away the largest recipients of federal and provincial subsidies. The industry argues the loan guarantees are peanuts compared with the resulting jobs and tax revenues.

    Researcher Mark Milke says Bombardier of Montreal received $745 million in government loans between 1993 and 2006. The top loan recipient is Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of the U.S. firm United Technologies.

    http://www.torontosun.com/money/2010/12/16/16581961.html

    • If you can’t see money-making in robotics there is no hope for you.

    • Industries nation-wide receive gobs of subsidies from all taxpayers. In fact, I’ll bet some of the federal subsidies applied to the Alberta Tar Sands include tax revenues from Quebec!

      I notice that Toronto Sun article doesn’t distinguish between the cost of low-interest loans and the dollar value of the loans themselves (which are presumably repaid). It also fails to challenge the industry assertion that these subsidies provide good value for Canadian taxpayers.

      • In the last four decades, Quebec and Quebec-based companies have received from Ottawa almost $220-billion more than they have paid back into Confederation.

        Alberta is already far and away the largest per capita contributor to federal equalization and transfers. Since 2002, Albertans’ net contributions each year have averaged $14,000 per family, or $3,500 per person.

        http://www.vigile.net/Quebec-s-glass-house

        Montreal Gazette:

        Just one example: in 1997, Bombardier received $141 million in interest-free contributions to develop the Q-400 turboprop and to stretch the 50-seat regional jet into a 70-seater.Ten years later, the company had repaid just $36 million of that amount, under a formula that ties repayments to royalties on the number of planes sold.

        Aircraft simulator maker CAE Inc. received $300.6 million in 1997 and had paid back $24 million as of last August. Engine-maker Pratt & Whitney Canada got $691.8 million and had repaid $26 million by that time.

        http://tonyseed.wordpress.com/2007/04/16/strategic-aerospace-defence-initiative-900-million-of-public-money-to-aerospace-and-military-monopolies/

        • Yawn,,,,when they get as many subsidies as the oil companies….lemme know.

        • Ok, but the topic was aerospace vs general corporate subsidies, not general federal transfers.

          And those two anecdotes, like anecdotes in general, don’t amount to actual data, do they?

    • Is it Waterloo Region itself you have something against?  I know you live close by, is it one of those Celtic vs. Ranger type things?  Quebec-based aerospace firms may be the largest recipients of federal and provincial subsidies.  But that was before we sent robots to Mars!  So I don’t see what difference this information makes.  On the other hand, ComDev, our own Waterloo Region company is specificallly geared to space electronics and sensors and stuff like that.

      • Only duty of care we have is to underclass and working class. Society should pay taxes to guarantee less well off an income, certain level of care and that’s it. 

        Subsidies to companies that employ clever people are not acceptable because money can be better spent elsewhere than sending robots to Mars. 

        My missus works with autistic kids in wellington/waterloo region and there are many parents who would like to have lower taxes so they can afford better therapy for their children. 

        When I read about government subsidies to middle class jobs in aerospace industry, I think of parents who would rather spend their money on their family and not someone else’s.

        Money will still be here in Canada, as will jobs, it will just be spent in different ways and priorities. 

        If one rich person, or a bunch of wealthy people, want to send robots to Mars they are welcome to do so. I fully support that but public money could be better spent elsewhere.

        • And if Christopher Columbus had thought like that………

        • I respect that view, while I’m more a case by case person myself, but what you’re really, in effect, saying here is that Quebec aerospace industries can continue to be subsidized all they like, but when it comes to an industry in other (our) neck of the woods, they must stand or die alone.

          I say this based on my understanding that you don’t have a problem with the concept of our sending robots to Mars, just that you don’t want any public money paying for it.

          And because I may never forgive the RIM thing.

  5. Kudos to Garneau for a fantastic idea.  A Canadian Mars probe should be seriously considered.  It’s surprisingly affordable, given that it’s not a manned mission at any stage.

    • And after the loss of Nortel and recent troubles at RIM, such a program might be an efficient way to breathe new life into Canada’s high-tech sector.

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