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Space opportunities abound in China and India

Nov. 4, 2011, Ottawa - Emerging economic powerhouses like China are changing
the face of the international space industry, a Canadian conference heard Thursday.


November 4, 2011
By The Canadian Press

Daniel Goldberg, the president and CEO of Telesat, says the implications are broad — not only for the space industry, but beyond.

He described how resource-hungry China shares satellite technology with poorer countries, which can not only drag down prices within the industry but also have a geopolitical impact.

"The Chinese use their space capabilities to sort of expand their influence around the world,'' he told a conference organized by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada.

"They gave a satellite to Venezuela, they gave a satellite to the African countries — and that then distorts the market in which we sell our services.''

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Michel Pley, the CEO of ComDev International, also has his eye on the new arrival in the space market; like Goldberg, he also sees business opportunities there.

He says the so-called BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — "are putting billions and billions of dollars into their space programs and we have a huge opportunity to participate.''

"We have to be there and we have to play the game in those countries.''

Pley adds that ComDev has seen a tremendous amount of change in China since the company first went there 15 years ago — and changes have also been noticed in India.

"The guys that come back from India tell me the facilities are better than what we see on the west coast in the U.S., and better than what we see in Europe,'' he said.

Steve MacLean, head of the Canadian Space Agency, says the two weeks he recently spent in China were an eye-opener.

The former Canadian astronaut says the Chinese are, for starters, copying everything the Russians build.

"If you had the privilege of going there like I have, you would see that what they're doing — it would roll your socks down about how much they're spending on space infrastructure,'' MacLean said.

"It is far more than any other country is spending.''

David Schellenberg, incoming chairman of AIAC, says there's no doubt aerospace is "at an indelible turning point'' and the next few years will be a critical time for the industry in Canada.

"The global market is growing quickly; well-supported competitors are developing around the world,'' he said.

"What happens over the next 12-18 months will set the stage for the next generation of aerospace in our country,'' he told industry representatives.