The space sector is well known for its leading edge technologies. Communication satellites have revolutionised world wide communications; mission critical systems are the norm within the industry; and robotics, intelligent systems and automation are key technologies regularly applied in the space programme. These and many other space technologies have huge potential for application in harsh environments on Earth.
The Harsh Environments Initiative (HEI) led by C-CORE in Canada is an effective demonstration of the opportunities to apply space technologies developed for Europe and Canada to operational issues in harsh terrestrial environments. This led the European Space Agency (ESA) to invest approximately 1.3M Canadian Dollars in HEI. Further, C-CORE was very successful in attracting tremendous industrial interest and support in Europe and Canada, from the end-users of the technologies in the resource industries to the suppliers of the space technologies. This has resulted in significant matching funds being invested in the programme by various industrial partners.
The C-CORE approach draws on the operational experience of the space industries and maximises the investment in space for broader applications. This approach is in two steps: first, to determine the technical challenges facing the resource industries through extensive consultation with key industrial members; and then to seek solutions from the diverse base of space technologies proven in the "harsh environment" of space and adapted for application on Earth. The first two sectors targeted in the programme are the oil and gas industry and the mining industry, both of which operate in very inhospitable environments.
Already there are 8 projects involving 12 end users and over sixty companies have indicated their interest in providing space technologies to the programme. Thirty-four space technologies have been evaluated and in the first twelve months of the programme, seven space technologies have been incorporated into the Harsh Environment Initiative. Many of the companies providing the space technologies are small and medium sized companies which have developed innovative solutions for space operations.
I have had the opportunity to be a member of the International Advisory Committee for the Harsh Environments Initiative together with senior representatives from the oil and gas industry and the mining industry. I can confirm the commitment and enthusiastic support which is being given to this programme. This is in recognition of the benefits which can accrue from space to the daily operating environments of the oil and gas and mining industries. At the same time, there are also benefits which will accrue back to the space environment, through the application of the technologies and experience gained on Earth towards future space activities.
C-CORE is one of Canada’s foremost institutions for the advancement of space, science and technology. The Canadian Space Agency is very pleased to have facilitated this activity, which is an important element of Canada’s cooperation with the European Space Agency.