Canadian Space Agency Faces 14 Percent Budget Cut

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VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is bracing for program cuts following the Feb. 28 announcement that the federal government will trim the organization’s budget from the current 424 million Canadian dollars ($429 million) to 363 million Canadian dollars.

It is not yet known which programs will be affected by the 14 percent reduction, or whether CSA personnel will be laid off.

“At this time we don’t know how the upcoming federal budget will impact the Canadian Space Agency,” said Andrea Matte, a spokeswoman for the agency in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to announce specific details of the overall federal budget March 29.

The reduction is not a complete surprise since it follows a three-year, 110 million Canadian-dollar cash infusion for CSA announced in 2009 as part of the government’s plan to reinvigorate the economy during the recession. That funding was used to develop terrestrial prototypes for space vehicles and other projects.

The CSA budget is expected in the coming years to drop back to its regular level of around 300 million Canadian dollars, although it could rise again if the government approves new space projects.

Among the CSA’s current development projects is the Polar Communications and Weather satellite system, which would provide communications and monitor weather and climate change in the Arctic. Funding has not yet been approved for the satellite but CSA officials are hoping for a launch around 2017.

Meanwhile, Canada on Feb. 29 renewed its commitment to the international space station until at least 2020. How much Canada plans to contribute to the station will not, however, be made public for several weeks.

CSA President Steve MacLean said he expects the station’s Canadarm robotic system can keep operating until 2028.