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2022 Independent Review of the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA)

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Space Strategies Consulting Ltd.
21 March 2022

This document is a deliverable under a contract with Space Strategies Consulting Ltd. It contains information proprietary to the Crown, or to a third party to which the Crown may have legal obligation to protect such information from unauthorized disclosure, use, or duplication. Any disclosure, use, or duplication of this document or of any of the information contained herein for other than the specific purpose for which it was disclosed is expressly prohibited outside the Government of Canada, except as the Crown may otherwise agree to in writing.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 2022

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

Executive Summary

Canada is at a crossroads in its regulation of remote sensing space systems. The Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA) and its Regulations once served an important security purpose but are now being rendered increasingly irrelevant by the rapid march of satellite and remote sensing technology and by a new reality of widely available commercial remote sensing space data that covers our planet.

While international competitors and allies, especially the United States, are relaxing their regulation of remote sensing space systems in response to changes in space technology, the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada (GAC), continues to closely regulate such systems under the RSSSA. The resulting regulatory burden imposed on the Canadian remote sensing space industry and research and development (R&D) groups is hindering Canada’s participation in today’s global space revolution. Without significant reform of its space regulations in general and the RSSSA specifically, and despite its rich heritage in space, Canada risks falling behind other nations in realizing the myriad opportunities that space systems can provide here on Earth to grow the economy, help save the environment, and support northern, indigenous, and other Canadian communities.

The government staff implementing the RSSSA at GAC have done excellent, under-recognized work in recent years to improve the operation of the Act. GAC’s initiatives include a new client procedures circular, an Ad Hoc advisory committee with members from industry and academia, and other outreach activities that have broadened the understanding among stakeholders of the purpose and functioning of the RSSSA and improved the licencing process.

Nevertheless, the existence of a rapidly growing, lightly regulated global commercial marketplace of space remote sensing information makes the Canadian regulatory framework – which places strict controls on approximately two dozen remote sensing space systemsFootnote 1. within a global marketplace served by hundreds of international remote sensing satellites – less relevant by the day. Many in the Canadian remote sensing space industry, including large established companies that gave carefully considered inputs to the Independent Review, are frustrated by increasingly irrelevant regulatory requirements placed on them by the RSSSA.

Figure 1 highlights concerns about costs for industry caused by the Act. Some companies report that business opportunities have been abandoned in the face of RSSSA licencing requirements.

Figure 1: RSSSA Costs to Industry Should Not be Discounted (Nine of twenty-one respondents (43%) report costs are Significant or Prohibitive)

Figure 1: RSSSA Costs to Industry Should Not be Discounted (Nine of twenty-one respondents (43%) report costs are Significant or Prohibitive)
Text version

LONG DESCRIPTION: Figure 1 shows the number of responses to Question 22 of the Stakeholder Survey on the Incremental costs to industry imposed by the RSSSA:

  1. Negligible: 3 out of 21
  2. Minor: 9 out of 21
  3. Significant: 5 out of 21
  4. Prohibitive: 4 out of 21

More broadly, the RSSSA should be just one part of a coherent, coordinated, and overarching framework of government oversight and support to Canada’s space industry, as that industry delivers the promise of space to all Canadians. However, that framework simply does not exist. Instead, Canada’s space innovators must navigate a complex and disjointed puzzle of regulatory oversight, industrial support programs, and fragmented government priorities (e.g., RSSSA, spectrum licencing, cybersecurity, satellite registration, launch regulation, industrial promotion, federal procurement). At times, the different elements of this puzzle may even work at cross-purposes to one another (e.g., Case Study Figure 2).

Figure 2: Disparate Government Actions Fail to Support InnovationFootnote 2

Case Study - Disparate Government Actions - Fail to Support a Canadian Space Innovator

Given that Canada lacks a Space Governance Framework, the RSSSA is one of the only pieces of Canadian legislation that directly governs space activities.Footnote 3 Other government priorities, such as promoting economic prosperity, may not be well enough expressed in policy or implemented in legislation to properly impact regulatory and other government decision-making about space. As such, the security concerns that gave rise to the RSSSA some twenty years ago tend to have outsized influence today, given their place as part of an established regulatory regime.

Specifically, when it entered into force in 2007, the RSSSA was an appropriate and useful regulatory response to the emergence of unique commercial space remote sensing capabilities, such as Radarsat-2, that began to rival the highly classified national security capabilities of the advanced space powers. The RSSSA provided the government with tools to ensure that data from such systems would not endanger Canada’s security. It was also true that some companies welcomed the introduction of a framework that ensured their innovative activities in space were legitimate and correct from a government perspective. The primary security focus of the Act was necessary, clear, and effective.

However, technological developments in the intervening years, especially the launch of hundreds of remote sensing satellites from countries around the world, have turned most commercial space remote sensing information into a business commodity, widely available from a large and growing range of global sources. Information from systems like Radarsat-2 and its successors is no longer unique or special, and controlling the small number of Canadian licenced systems provides little policy benefit in the face of a flood of similar international data.

For example, “the safety of Canadian Forces” must be considered when the Minister issues a licence under the RSSSA. However, today’s reality is that Canadian Forces must adapt their operational plans, and Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) to account for their near constant exposure to surveillance from hundreds of remote sensing satellites. The RSSSA’s ability to exercise some control over Canadian remote sensing space systems – that are a very small subset of the global collection of such systems – is of minimal operational value to Canadian Forces. Similar analysis applies to other security and foreign policy goals of the RSSSA: the controls provided by the Act are of limited practical use in today’s world of ubiquitous space remote sensing.

Yet, the existing provisions of the RSSSA require that the Canadian regulator continue to prioritize potential security concerns about the remote sensing space systems of Canadian operators and those of foreign operators in Canada. This security focus can introduce incremental costs and operational complications for Canadian space innovators. Various other priorities (e.g., research and development of space systems, economic development for all Canadians enabled by space systems, support to Northern communities) can languish in competition with the established security imperative of the RSSSA.

From a broader perspective that includes Canada’s science, innovation, and economic goals, in addition to security concerns, the opportunity costs of the RSSSA now outweigh the security benefits provided by the Act.

In the short term, concrete practical steps are needed to formally review and, as much as possible, adjust how the security and foreign policy goals of the RSSSA are assessed and implemented in the practical operation of the Act. GAC should lead a formal interdepartmental review of the policy goals of the RSSSA to balance and reconcile Canadian national security and foreign policy interests with the economic development, innovation, and global competitiveness interests of the country.

In the longer term, Canada needs new legislation and regulations that position Canadian industry to compete from a position of strength and agility in today and tomorrow's global space market.

Our complete list of 11 short, medium, and long-term recommendations are found in Section 12 of this report.

Key Findings

  1. Impact of the RSSSA on Technological Development – The RSSSA inhibits technological development of remote sensing space systems in Canada, including by regulating such systems more strictly than other international jurisdictions, especially the United States. Canada is therefore becoming a less desirable place to conduct space remote sensing research and development, grow space remote sensing businesses, and exploit space systems to address global challenges like climate change.
  2. Impact of Technological Development on the RSSSA – Recent technological development of commercial remote sensing space systems, especially the global proliferation of large numbers of such systems, calls into question the need for the security controls (e.g., Customer Access Profiles, Shutter Control) on Canadian remote sensing space systems and those of foreign operators in Canada that are imposed under the RSSSA. Such controls can now be safely reduced.
  3. Impact of the RSSSA on the implementation of international agreements and treaties – Canada is meeting its international obligations with respect to remote sensing space systems, in part through the provisions of the RSSSA.

We further highlight that:

1. Introduction

Canada’s Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA) entered into force in 2007 to regulate new, unique, and highly capable Canadian Earth observation satellites like Radarsat-2. In the wrong hands, data from such satellites could have harmed Canadian interests. In close coordination with allies such as the United States, the Government of Canada implemented the RSSSA to mitigate that risk of harm to Canadian interests.

In the intervening years, the technology, business, and international regulation of remote sensing space systems have changed significantly. Hundreds of very capable remote sensing satellites have been launched by countries around the world. Data from Canadian remote sensing space systems is no longer unique or special. Instead, space remote sensing data is now a commonplace commercial commodity widely available from many sources with few restrictions.

As a result, Canada’s use of the RSSSA to limit the distribution of Canadian remote sensing space data is now arguably of questionable value since customers around the world can easily obtain equivalent data from multiple other sources. Governments, militaries, and others who may have used tools similar to the RSSSA to control information about their operations derived from remote sensing satellites, have been forced to adjust to a new reality of ever-present surveillance from space that they largely cannot control. Of note, the United States liberalized its space remote sensing regulations in 2020 and now prioritizes support for the U.S. space remote sensing industry in its regulations rather than the pursuit of largely unachievable security goals.

In Canada, the RSSSA and its implementing Regulations have not changed since coming into force in 2007. The Canadian regulator (GAC) must still apply specific security and foreign policy criteria to the licensing of government and commercial remote sensing space systems operated by Canadian operators worldwide and by foreign operators in Canada. The resulting regulatory requirements continue to add cost and complexity to Canadian systems and put Canadian industry at an international competitive disadvantage.

Fortunately, the RSSSA anticipates the dynamic nature of space remote sensing technology and mandates that an Independent Review of the Act be conducted every five years.

This 2022 Independent Review of the RSSSA, conducted on the fifteen-year anniversary of the Act coming into force, addresses the significant changes in space remote sensing technologies and policies since 2007 and makes recommendations to ensure the Act and related policies continue to serve Canada’s best interests into the future.

1.1. Mandate of the Independent Review

The requirement to conduct periodic Independent Reviews of the RSSSA is contained in Section 45.1 of the Act, which calls for:

 “… an independent review of the provisions and operation of the Act to assess, in particular, its impact on technological development and on the implementation of international agreements and treaties.”

Independent Reviews must be conducted every five years. Previous reviews took place in 2012 and 2017 and were ably conducted by the McGill University Institute of Air and Space Law.

SSCL is conducting the 2022 Independent Review of the RSSSA under the terms of contract # 7427285 with GAC. The Statement of Work for that contract describes three tasks:

The contract also requires that the final report of the Independent Review not disclose the names of those consulted or interviewed. This anonymized approach to the final report facilitates full and frank inputs from the RSSSA stakeholders consulted by the Review team.

1.2 Methodology

SSCL conducted the three tasks required by its Statement of Work as follows:

1.2.1. Task #1 – Stakeholder Engagement

GAC provided SSCL with a list of recommended stakeholders for the Review team to consult. SSCL updated and expanded that list.

SSCL analyzed the current issues associated with the RSSSA and created a comprehensive online Questionnaire to gather the views of RSSSA stakeholders on these issues.

SSCL emailed a total of 101 RSSSA stakeholders from industry, academia, and government, in Canada and abroad, inviting them to provide their inputs to the Independent Review via email or by completing the online Questionnaire. The Independent Review was also announced via a media release that was posted on the SSCL company websiteFootnote 4 and the company’s social media feeds and provided to a small number of Canadian space news websites. Of those websites, Space Q CanadaFootnote 5 reported on the start of the Independent Review.

SSCL received inputs from 62 RSSSA stakeholders as follows:

The Review team conducted follow-on interviews with 20 of the 62 RSSSA stakeholders who had provided initial input to the Independent Review. For the most part, the follow-on interviews were prompted by requests from stakeholders who wanted an opportunity to expand upon their initial replies to the Questionnaire. The Review team also initiated some interviews with certain stakeholders with particular expertise or a unique perspective on issues of interest to the Review team.

The results of the stakeholder consultations are provided below in Section 2 of this report.

1.2.2. Task #2 – Impact of the Act on Technological Development and Impact of Technological Development on the Relevance of the Act

There have been dramatic technological developments in satellites and remote sensing space systems over the 15-year life of the RSSSA. SSCL maintains an ongoing technology watch of these developments for a variety of purposes and clients. We have leveraged our existing knowledge base of these developments for this Review, conducted additional research in areas of specific interest for the RSSSA, and drawn on the results of the RSSSA stakeholder consultation to inform our analysis.

The Review team have been careful to draw only on publicly available information for the purposes of this unclassified Review to be tabled in Parliament.

1.2.3. Task #3 – Canada’s International Obligations

As noted in the previous Independent Reviews of the RSSSA conducted by the McGill University Institute of Air and Space Law in 2012 and 2017, there are only a handful of legally-binding international space obligations for Canada. We identified three UN treaties and conventions, plus one bilateral agreement between Canada and the US as sources of such binding obligations applicable to space remote sensing. These obligations tend to be loosely defined and Canada easily meets them.

Our analysis of international obligations for this Independent Review has, therefore, been a relatively straightforward confirmation of the findings of the previous Reviews, informed by our engagement with RSSSA stakeholders and other correspondence with Canadian and international space law and policy practitioners.

Our legal and policy team have also analyzed Canada’s compliance with several non-binding but still important international space governance resolutions, guidelines, and agreements.

The analysis of Canada’s compliance with international obligations associated with space remote sensing is found in Section 8 of this report.

2. Results of the Stakeholder Engagement

As described in the methodology section above (Section 1.2.1), the Independent Review team engaged with 62 RSSSA stakeholders from industry, academia, and government, in Canada and abroad. Our stakeholder engagements included email exchanges, receiving position papers, conducting an online stakeholder Questionnaire, and interviewing selected stakeholders.

The online RSSSA Stakeholder Questionnaire was a key part of our engagement strategy. We received 37 replies to the online Questionnaire. Those replies are summarized below and reported in detail in Annex A.

2.1. Responses to the Stakeholder Questionnaire

This summary of the responses to the Stakeholder Questionnaire follows the structure of the Questionnaire, which included the following nine sections:

  1. Introductory Questions
  2. Knowledge of the RSSSA
  3. Policy Goals of the RSSSA (including national security)
  4. Facilitating Industry
  5. Issues Surrounding Data
  6. The RSSSA and Canada's International Obligations
  7. Administration of the RSSSA
  8. Other Issues Related to the RSSSA (e.g., National Space Policy)
  9. Follow-on Communication with the Independent Review Team

The summary discussion below is anonymized – i.e., we do not provide any information, especially from “Introductory Questions”, that would identify individuals or organizations.

The summary focuses on Sections 2 through 8 of the Questionnaire that constitute the substantive portion of the survey.

Stakeholders were asked to reply only to those sections of the Questionnaire within their experience and expertise. As a result, there are different numbers of total replies for different sections of the Questionnaire, and the rough percentages provided in the discussion below are sometimes based on small numbers of replies to specific questions. These rough percentages are not the product of a rigorous statistical analysis and are only intended to give a general sense of the nature of the replies to the survey.

2.1.1. Breakdown of Stakeholders Who Responded to the Questionnaire

Respondents were asked what group of RSSSA stakeholders they represented. Those replies are summarized in Figure 3 below. The largest number of replies came from government stakeholders, followed by industry stakeholders.

Figure 3: Number of Stakeholder Questionnaire Replies by Stakeholder Type (Note that some stakeholders provided input outside the Questionnaire, e.g., via email)

'Figure 3: Number of Stakeholder Questionnaire Replies by Stakeholder Type (Note that some stakeholders provided input outside the Questionnaire, e.g., via email)'
Text version

LONG DESCRIPTION: Figure 3 shows the following number of questionnaire replies by type of stakeholder:

  1. 19 from Government
  2. 12 from Industry
  3. 2 from Academia Satellite Owner
  4. 2 from Academia or Civil Society
  5. 2 from Other

It is notable that roughly half of the respondents to the questionnaire were government stakeholders. This large response from government stakeholders is likely because the RSSSA is a tool for government to regulate remote sensing space systems. The relevant government stakeholders contacted by the Review team were quite familiar with the RSSSA and willing to support a legislatively-mandated process to review the Act. Some of the government responders were also RSSSA licence holders.

Industry stakeholders, especially smaller organizations, tended to have less available time to participate in the Review and expressed some scepticism about the value of the Review. The larger, well-established space remote sensing companies tended to provide more substantive inputs to the Review versus small commercial start-ups or university R&D groups.

In any event, we must remain aware of the large portion of government stakeholders in the response numbers provided below and in Annex A to this report. For certain key questions where there was a notable difference in the replies from different stakeholder groups, e.g., understanding of the costs to industry imposed by the RSSSA (Section 2.1.4 below), the response is broken out by stakeholder group (i.e., government versus industry versus academia). Those raw numbers are provided in Annex A and summarized below.

2.1.2. Stakeholders’ Knowledge of the RSSSA

The stakeholders replying to the questionnaire were quite knowledgeable about the RSSSA.

2.1.3. Response to the Policy Goals of the RSSSA

The survey posed several general questions to gauge the support of respondents for the policy goals the RSSSA is intended to meet (e.g., protecting Canada’s national security and supporting foreign relations). The survey also asked stakeholders for their assessment of the value of the tools provided by the RSSSA – such as interruption of service (i.e., “shutter control”: restrictions on taking images of certain areas of the Earth) – in meeting the policy goals of the Act.

2.1.4. Facilitating Industry

The survey contained eighteen questions to assess the impact of the RSSSA on Canada’s remote sensing space industry, such as: What incremental cost does the RSSSA create for industry? Do controls imposed under the RSSSA adversely impact businesses?

Thirty-one stakeholders responded to this section of the questionnaire, 16 from government and 15 from industry and academia.

A more detailed break-down of the responses by stakeholder type to key questions about the RSSSA’s impact on facilitating industry can be found in Annex A, questions 21-26.

2.1.5. Issues Surrounding Data

Controlling data from remote sensing space systems is an important function of the RSSSA. The survey explored whether the provisions of the Act supported the needs of business related to data handling, while also allowing for any controls on data handling required to meet the policy goals of the Act.

2.1.6. The RSSSA and Canada’s International Obligations

The Independent Review was specifically tasked to assess whether Canada meets its international obligations with respect to space remote sensing. The survey posed a small number of questions on this topic to supplement the Review team’s analysis of this issue.

2.1.7. Administration of the RSSSA

The Stakeholder questionnaire included 15 questions concerning the administration of the RSSSA by Global Affairs Canada. Of note:

2.1.8. Other Issues Related to the RSSSA

The RSSSA is related to other existing or potential Canadian space governance legislation and policies. The Questionnaire included a small number of questions about this broader space governance context.

2.2. Key Themes from the Stakeholder Engagement Identified by the Independent Review

The inputs the Review team received from our engagement with government, industry, and academic stakeholders confirmed our initial expectations: the ongoing dramatic changes in the technology, business, and international regulation of space remote sensing are having a significant impact on the space remote sensing activities regulated by the RSSSA. The purpose and functioning of the Act must be reassessed in light of those changes.

Three key themes emerged from our stakeholder engagement that informed our analysis of the impact of these changes on Canada’s space remote sensing regulatory framework:

These three themes are further developed below.

2.2.1. RSSSA Provides a Generally Workable Regulatory Scheme

The RSSSA has functioned effectively since coming into force in 2007. Based on estimates provided by GACFootnote 6, nineteen Canadian remote sensing space systems received a licence or provisional approval under the RSSSA from 2007 to 2020, and as many as six licences or provisional approvals were expected to be issued in 2021.

Government stakeholders are generally satisfied with their ability to exercise appropriate control over remote sensing space systems, and thus protect the relevant Canadian security and foreign policy interests. Some in government see evidence of the success of the RSSSA in the fact that Canadian remote sensing space systems have not been the source of any meaningful compromises of Canadian security.

In general, the Canadian remote sensing space industry has operated successfully while subject to the oversight of the RSSSA. The survey of stakeholders conducted for this Review indicates that Canadian companies tend to understand and support the policy goals of the Act. For many larger, more established companies, the controls they are required to implement under the RSSSA (e.g., controlling data distribution, using encryption) are controls they would implement for their own business purposes.

However, even those licensees with a positive experience with the RSSSA believe there is considerable room for improvement. For example, they noted that:

Figure 4: RSSSA Complicates Using the Cloud

Figure 4: RSSSA Complicates Using the Cloud
Text version

LONG DESCRIPTION: Figure 4 shows the number of responses to Question 41 on the impact of the RSSSA on the use of modern data handling, such as the Cloud:

  1. 6 said Very Negative
  2. 11 said Negative
  3. 4 said No Impact
  4. 5 said they do not know.

2.2.2. Adverse Impact on some Space Businesses and Research Groups

Beyond the important “room for improvement” described by some in industry and noted above, some RSSSA stakeholders are extremely critical of the RSSSA and the resulting regulatory regime. These RSSSA stakeholders:Footnote 7

Figure 5: Controls Required by RSSSA Complicate Access to Canadian DataFootnote 8

Case Study - RSSSA Complicates Use of Canadian Remote Sensing Data

2.2.3. Impact of RSSSA on Industry is Poorly Understood

The survey results indicate that the impact of the RSSSA on industry is poorly understood, including by some in government.

This poor understanding may be the natural result of the different mandates and perspectives of the relevant stakeholders. Many of the government departments involved in the operation of the RSSSA (e.g., National Defence, GAC) have security and foreign policy mandates. The RSSSA itself does not explicitly prioritize issues such as space R&D or Canada’s economic development.

In this context, the comments of some government stakeholders make some sense:

Some in government may also not fully appreciate how complications caused by the RSSSA can dramatically impact commercial outcomes. For example, the time and effort to create a System Participant Agreement to allow a new international remote sensing space system operator to use a northern Canadian satellite ground station may not seem excessive, but one stakeholder reported it caused enough “business friction” to cause potential international partners to pursue ground stations outside Canada to support their operations.

In summary, industry stakeholders report that when the regulator issues RSSSA licences and strikes a balance between security concerns and the interests of industry, business concerns often lose out.

3. Original Context and Purpose of the RSSSA

Approximately twenty years ago, the development of Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2 was a key driver in the creation of the RSSSA. That series of world-leading Canadian Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites provided considerable capability of potential military and national security value that, in the wrong hands, had real potential to harm Canadian interests. The fact that Radarsat-2 eventually became a fully commercial system not owned by government, meant that Canada could have been left without means to exercise appropriate control over sensitive national security data from that system and others like it. The RSSSA was created to address this shortfall in the government’s oversight authority.

A desire to implement certain guidelines and best practices, such as the UN Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space (1986) (further discussed in Section 8.2.1 below), also motivated the creation of the RSSSA.

The text of the RSSSA itself does not provide an explicit statement of the policy purpose and goals of the legislation. However, a Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) press release issued when the bill was first tabled in the House of Commons noted that the aim of the legislation was to protect "Canada's national security, national defence and foreign policy interests (emphasis added) while supporting [Canada's] continued leadership in the provision of satellite remote sensing data and services to government and private clients."Footnote 9

The heavy security focus of the Act is clearly seen in Section 8 (1) of the legislation, where the Minister may issue licences,

“… having regard to

The primary security focus of the Act was clear. The regulatory regime created by the Act allowed for the successful licensing and oversight of Radarsat-2 and other remote sensing space systems in a manner consistent with Canada’s security and foreign policy needs.

4. Technological Development and the Current Context for the RSSSA

In the two decades that have passed since the creation of the RSSSA, dramatic progress in satellite and remote sensing technology has fundamentally changed the nature of the remote sensing space activities that the Act regulates. This section of our report introduces those technological developments and assesses their immediate impact on the relevance and operation of the Act. Section 5 deals with the impact of the Act on the conduct of space remote sensing technological development (e.g., research and development, business development) in Canada, while Section 6 considers broader and longer-term impacts of technological development on the RSSSA and Canada’s overall space governance framework.

A fundamental underlying reality drives the analysis of recent space remote sensing technological development: A large number of commercial Earth imaging satellites have been launched since the RSSSA was created, and many more will be launched in the next few years.

Figure 6 below gives some sense of this trend. By one estimate, there were almost 1,000 active Earth observation satellites on orbit as of mid-2021.Footnote 11 There are plans to launch as many as 500 such satellites every year for the next 4-5 years.Footnote 12 Over 2,160 such satellites may eventually be launched over the next decade.Footnote 13

Figure 6: Earth Observation Satellite Launches by YearFootnote 14

Figure 6: Earth Observation Satellite Launches by Year
Text version

LONG DESCRIPTION: Figure 6 is a reproduction of a graph that appears in the U.S. report cited in the footnote. It shows the increase in the number of earth observation satellite launches, by type user and by year between 1971 and 2018. Until 2014, satellites launched were predominantly for government/civil use and their numbers did not go beyond 10. Thereafter, the number of satellite launches increased rapidly, with the share of commercial satellites accounting for the bulk – roughly 70 out of 80 in 2014; 45 out of 55 in 2015; 43 out of 58 in 2016; 155 out of 170 in 2017; and 23 out of 38 in 2018.

One researcher describes the coming “… Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Singularity, … where real-time Earth observations with analytics are available globally to the average citizen on the ground providing a tremendous wealth of information, insight, and intelligence.”Footnote 15

The original problem the RSSSA addressed – managing security risks from a small number of unique and sophisticated Canadian remote sensing space systems – has been replaced by a new reality: large numbers of very capable imaging satellites from many countries are producing a flood of high-quality Earth observation data. As a result, using the RSSSA to control some data from the very small Canadian portion of this international flood of data provides little, if any, policy benefit for Canada.

Several technological developments have contributed to the new reality of widely-available space remote sensing information:

4.1. Large Constellations of Satellites

“Proliferated LEO” or “Mega-LEO” are catch phrases for a key technology trend: placing large constellations of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). Industry is leveraging miniaturization, standardization, and advances in design and manufacturing techniques to produce low-cost, very capable small satellites. Furthermore, increased competition in the space launch industry means large constellations of these small satellites can be deployed at a reasonable cost.

Communications satellites are a prime illustration of the trend towards proliferated LEO systems. SpaceX, Amazon, Telesat, and others are pursuing constellations of hundreds and thousands of satellites to provide persistent, low-latency global communications. U.S. regulators have already agreed to license more than 10,000 such satellites. SpaceX alone has over 1,500 Starlink satellites on orbit as of mid-2021.

The trend toward proliferated LEO systems can also be seen in Earth observation satellites, i.e., the type found in the remote sensing space systems that the RSSSA regulates. Planet Labs, Satellogic, Capella, and ICEYE are just a few typical examples of companies with large and growing numbers of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical Earth imagery satellites on orbit. Table 1 below provides a summary of key attributes of some of those systems. The low average revisit times are notable. As more satellites from different companies are able to revisit any point on the Earth every few hours (e.g., every 2 hours for Satellogic, every 3-6 hours for Capella), the aggregate revisit rate begins to approach something akin to “continuous” coverage for various practical purposes.

Table 1: Relevant Attributes of Key Earth Observation ConstellationsFootnote 16

SystemTypeNo. of satellites in orbit (mid-2021)No. of satellites planned (< 5 years)Image resolutionAverage revisit time (goal)
SatellogicOptical17300+Sub-meter (multispectral)2 hours
PlanetScopeOptical120130+3-5 m24 hours
BlackSkyOptical6601 mUnknown
CapellaSAR736Sub-meterBetween 3 and 6 hours
ICEYESAR10Unknown1 m (spot mode)20 hours at equator

Given this growing global collection of space remote sensing capabilities, data from any particular system is, for the most part, no longer unique or special. Space remote sensing information has instead become a commonplace commercial commodity that is widely available from many international sources. This reality drives two practical outcomes:

4.2. Small Satellites

Historically, typical Earth observation space systems consisted of a small number of large, highly capable satellites developed by national space organizations and major corporations. These satellites were engineered to very high reliability standards, an approach that guaranteed mission success but also drove high levels of complexity and cost.

More recently, the trend is towards smaller satellites. Definitions vary, but SmallSats are typically under 500 kg mass and can be very small, as seen in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Some Classes of SmallSatsFootnote 17

NameMass
Mini satellite100 – 180 kg
Micro satellite10 – 100 kg
Nano satellite1 – 10 kg
Pico satellite0.01 – 1 kg
Femto satellite0.001 – 0.01 kg

Despite their size, SmallSats can still be very capable. The ongoing revolution in the miniaturization of electronics that has put over 11 billion transistors and incredible computing power into modern cell phones, also extends to satellites. Today’s small satellites can pack incredible computing power into a package that is small, light, and relatively low-cost.

SmallSats drive a new approach to space system reliability. When a space mission is performed by a large constellation of small satellites, the failure of any single satellite need not be mission critical. A large constellation of satellites can typically continue to perform well even if some individual satellites fail. As a result, typical SmallSats do not need to be engineered to the very-high, very-costly standards applied to large satellites – further driving down costs. SmallSats generally have shorter operational lives compared to traditional earth observation satellites, and satellites can be replaced with new models over time, maintaining the health of the constellation and incrementally improving system features and overall capability.

SmallSats – relatively inexpensive, highly capable, small, and light (and therefore more easily launched) – are a key enabler of the large constellations that are making remote sensing information a robust, commonplace, lightly-regulated global commercial commodity. This renders the security-focused regulations from the RSSSA largely irrelevant.

4.3. More and Cheaper Space Launch

The high cost of launching satellites into orbit has always been a key factor in the design and operation of space systems. Space launch was very expensive at the beginning of the space age. Those costs came down somewhat through the first decade of space operations, but remained high for subsequent decades.

In the last five to ten years, innovation in commercial launch systems has substantially reduced the cost of space launch. By one estimate, commercial launch services have reduced the cost of placing a satellite in low Earth orbit by a factor of 20 (NASA’s space shuttle: $54,500/kg; SpaceX’s Falcon 9: $2,720/kg).Footnote 18

While SpaceX has led the way in recent commercial space launch development, there are many dynamic competitors in the field that are driving the cost of space launch even lower. Virgin Orbit, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, Astra Space, and Sierra Nevada Corporation are a few examples of the many emerging space launch options. Maritime Launch Services is a notable Canadian company building “Canada’s first commercial spaceport” in Nova Scotia.

More and cheaper space launch options are then another key enabler of the large constellations of small satellites that are transforming remote sensing space operations. With companies like Maritime Launch Services potentially entering the field, regulation of space launch is also emerging as an active issue for Canada. This issue is distinct from our review of remote sensing regulations, but adds to the impetus for an overarching analysis of Canadian space governance.

4.4. New Operational Concepts

The large constellations of small satellites enabled by various new technologies are also spurring innovation in remote sensing operational concepts. For example, the resolution of the sensors used in Earth observations satellites is a key factor determining the usefulness of those satellites for many remote sensing applications. Remote sensing space systems have typically operated at altitudes above 500 km to ensure the long operational life of large, expensive satellites. Improvements in the resolution of such systems came largely through improvements in the sensor payload.

Lowering the altitude of remote sensing satellites is another way to improve the resolution of a space system. However, there are limits to how low a satellite can successfully operate. In particular, atmospheric drag increases at lower altitudes, meaning that satellites at lower altitudes will not stay in orbit indefinitely but will suffer orbital decay and eventually completely deorbit. The lower the satellite orbit, the quicker the eventual re-entry.

Table 3 below provides a rough guide to the lifetime of an object in a circular or near circular orbit at various altitudes. The analysis assumes no propulsion is available to periodically boost the satellite orbit.

Table 3: Satellite Altitude and Natural LifetimeFootnote 19

Satellite AltitudeLifetime
200 km1 day
300 km1 month
400 km1 year
500 km10 years
700 km100 years
900 km1,000 years

Small, inexpensive remote sensing satellites are now being operated at lower altitudes to significantly increase system resolution, while accepting a reasonable cost to replace inexpensive satellites that decay from orbit on a more frequent basis and/or include low-cost thrusters for orbit maintenance.

Such innovative operational approaches take advantage of the technology of large constellations of small satellites (e.g., inexpensive satellites, frequent launch, and replenishment of satellites). This means that regulatory oversight may need to adjust in response, for example, with frequent updates to the licences for dynamically changing remote sensing satellite constellations.

4.5. Innovation in Sensors

4.5.1. Radar Sensors

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors have traditionally operated in certain useful portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., the C and X radio bands). However, as competition increases for that bandwidth, manufacturers are increasingly turning to alternative frequency ranges. These include L band, which is particularly useful for measuring moisture content in soil and vegetation; Ku band, which is sensitive to water density; and Ka band, which can capture fine details. This specialization permits novel applications when imagery from multiple satellites or multiple passes of a satellite are combined, e.g., coherent change detection.

Passive Bistatic Radar (PBR) is a new technology that may require the attention of regulators. Rather than sending a radar signal, a satellite can use an existing radio signal from external sources, such as communications systems, as the beam source for a bistatic radar system. Since PBRs do not actively transmit, they can operate passively with very low power and complexity. PBR is an area of growing interest both for militaries and the commercial sector. Potential regulatory issues for PBR include the status of emitters providing the external source of radar illumination. Defining whether external illuminators are part of a regulated PBR system may be a future challenge for regulators.

4.5.2. Optical Sensors

One emerging technology for optical earth observation (EO) is the use of Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS), which are miniaturized devices that can modify incoming light according to an electronic signal. For example, a MOEMS can dynamically remove overbright sources from an image, enhancing the signal-to-noise ratio of the resulting image. Beyond reducing the need for on-board computation capability, which reduces spacecraft power requirements, MOEMS have found their way into many terrestrial applications, such as metrology and medical applications. Related to the earlier-mentioned trend toward miniaturization, optical satellites are able to pack a large number of different sensors into ever smaller packages, vastly increasing the amount of relevant information captured. For example, Satellogic-ÑuSat EO, launched in 2014, incorporates multiple sensor types (pan-spectral, multispectral, hyperspectral, and thermal infrared), all while weighing approximately 37 kg.

Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) is another important innovation. Whereas typical optical EO sensors capture between 3 to 12 frequency bands in the visible and near-infrared spectra, hyperspectral images can capture over 200, providing a “cube” of detailed frequency responses. This facilitates new and useful applications, such as detecting oil spills, soil degradation, and the health of vegetation; seeing through military camouflage; and forecasting the likelihood of volcanic eruptions and landslides.Footnote 20

Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) is an active optical system similar to radar. However, lidar uses a laser in the visible or infrared ranges instead of the radio or microwave signal to illuminate a target. This similarity means the principles of SAR can be applied to lidar systems to produce Synthetic Aperture Lidar (SAL). This technology can potentially make images of target areas with higher fidelity and improved resolution compared to SAR. SAR and SAL systems can be used concurrently to obtain more intelligence about an area of interest compared to individual sensor types. For example, a SAR system can be used to detect ships at sea, after which a SAL system can be used to identify the type and condition of the detected ships.

4.5.3. Impact of Sensor Innovations

The ongoing innovation in the types of sensors that can be applied to remote sensing space systems means that much more detailed information and new types of information can be collected by Earth observation systems. Some of these new capabilities may give rise to new security concerns about the use of the detailed and analytically rich information that is collected. However, as with most space remote sensing data, the widespread international commercial availability of such new capabilities means regulatory controls of such systems will be of limited practical national security value and would impede the best use of new sensor innovations for the benefit of all.

4.6. Processing and Exploitation

Even as the capabilities of EO satellites grow with new technologies, the ability of users to process and interpret the data these technologies provide grows alongside them. These analytical systems are driven and enabled by current technology trends, such as parallel computing, cloud computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, inter-satellite communications, continuous and global EO, and ubiquitous networks for guidance and navigation purposes.

EO data is becoming increasingly more accessible thanks to efforts by governments and private companies to treat access to this data as a public good. The free and open data benefits the public by assisting with navigation, agriculture, news reporting, and emergency response, among many other applications. For these reasons, many current government-owned and operated satellite missions provide EO data without restrictions, either for free or at a marginal cost. The trend in unrestricted data is expected to continue due to an increasing number of civilian EO missions and an increased emphasis on international cooperation over the last couple of decades. The data controls imposed on systems licensed under the RSSSA run counter to the international trends toward more open data and complicate Canadian efforts to contribute data to the public good.

While the EO data is expected to remain open, the extraction and exploitation of information from data is rapidly becoming a lucrative field that many small companies are starting to pursue. The application of deep learning and other big data techniques allows these companies to sift through large volumes of publicly available data to extract meaningful information, insights, and analytics.

Traditionally, image analysis has been done by human operators examining and analyzing incoming optical and SAR data, which requires a significant amount of training, resources, and time. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, and cloud processing allow analysts to process much larger sets of data at a much faster rate. This includes pre-processing on the satellite itself and post-processing at the ground station or by the end user.

4.7. Quantum Technology

Quantum sensors and communications form a broad class of instruments and technologies whose performance is not limited by the boundaries of classical physics. Currently, at a very low Technology Readiness Level (TRL)Footnote 21, quantum technology nevertheless holds promise in 10 to 20 years for many practical applications, including for remote sensing space systems, such as:

Application of quantum technology to remote sensing space systems is a long-term possibility that may require future attention by regulators and subsequent Independent Reviews of the RSSSA.

4.8. Blockchain

Blockchain is a specific type of data structure using distributed ledgersFootnote 22 to store and transmit data in packages called “blocks,” connected in a digital “chain.” Blockchains employ cryptographic and algorithmic methods to record and synchronize data across a network in an immutable manner.

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform global data markets, including Earth observation data, with decentralization, immutability, security, and transparency. Blockchains may not be immediately applicable to space systems and the exploitation of Earth observation data. However, this perspective may change rapidly as the technology improves and new examples of the added value of blockchain are progressively revealed.

Regulatory approaches to the security of remote sensing space data may need to change to take advantage of the security opportunities provided by Blockchain technology and facilitate innovation in the design and operation of remote sensing space systems.

4.9. Anticipated Future Advancements in Earth Observation Technologies

Ongoing changes in Earth observation technology are having a significant impact on how the RSSSA should be implemented in the near term and possibly amended in the future. For additional context and background information in understanding these trends:

5. Impact of the RSSSA on Technological Development

The RSSSA calls for the periodic independent reviews of the Act to assess, among other things, the impact of the Act on “technological development”.

Our 2022 Independent Review of the RSSSA recognizes the recent rapid and accelerating advance of satellite and remote sensing technologies and the need for “a more thorough examination of the impact of the Act on technological development”, in accordance with the Statement of Work for the conduct of the Independent Review.

“Impact … on technological development” is a broad concept. We see three primary areas of technological development impacted by the RSSSA:

5.1. Impact of the RSSSA on Research and Development

Canadian universities are an important source of R&D for remote sensing space systems, including work on the technology of the satellites themselves (e.g., SmallSat engineering, sensor development) and on the exploitation of the data they produce.

Test flying actual satellites in orbit can be an important element of a space R&D program. The ongoing revolution in small, inexpensive satellites and cheap space launch has allowed smaller R&D groups, including Canadian universities, the opportunity to fly their own R&D satellites. In turn, the benefits of such research flow back into improvements in space technology, creating a virtuous cycle of technological development. There are a variety of avenues to pursue such work in Canada, sometimes with government support, including various Canadian Space Agency programs like Flights and Fieldwork for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST), smartEarth, the Space Technology Development Program (STDP), and the Canadian CubeSat Project (CCP).

However, complications arise when it comes time to actually put an R&D SmallSat into Earth orbit. If an R&D satellite does any form of remote sensing – i.e., “… is capable of sensing the surface of the Earth through the use of electromagnetic waves”, in the broad language of the RSSSA – then a licence under the Act is likely required. The scientists, engineers, and students of a university R&D group must then deal with the requirements for RSSSA licensing (e.g., system documentation, program management reports, government security vetting of personnel).

Various stakeholders reported to the Review Team that the time, cost, and complexity of an RSSSA licensing process for their R&D satellite was a significant drag on their R&D programs. This lost time and effort were problematic even if their engagement with GAC – trying to understand the broad definitions and practical applicability of the Act – led to an eventual conclusion that a licence was not required.

R&D on new techniques to use space remote sensing data are also impacted by the RSSSA. For instance, the handling of certain types of remote sensing data (e.g., Raw data, Single Look Complex) is restricted under the Act. The resulting requirements, such as System Participant Agreements and security vetting, to access such information, however, limit what organizations and people can contribute to Canadian R&D programs and hinder innovation using that data.

Canadian industry faces many of the same challenges as academic space remote sensing R&D programs. Larger companies may have more experience and resources to deal with regulatory authorities and address the requirements of the RSSSA, but the incremental cost, complications, and limitations driven by the Act are still problematic for industry R&D programs.

5.2. Impact of the RSSSA on Space Remote Sensing Businesses

Commercial remote sensing technology development is extremely dynamic and competitive on a global scale. Canadian companies must be agile and innovative to successfully respond to the rapid changes in the global market, both from the perspective of user needs and the technology development to satisfy those needs.

Drawing in large measure on our stakeholder engagement for this Independent Review (further elaborated in Section 2), we see several areas where the RSSSA affects the agility and innovation of the Canadian remote sensing space industry:

Some industry stakeholders told the Independent Review that they had lost business opportunities because of the RSSSA.

Other reviews and studies have noted similar concerns, including the Space Advisory Board Round Table on Canada’s Future in Space, which identified significant concerns about the RSSSA restricting innovation and growth in Canada, including in the North.Footnote 23

5.3. Impact of the RSSSA on Innovation in the Use of Remote Sensing Space Data

The ultimate purpose of creating remote sensing space systems is to obtain data that can be used to solve problems on Earth. Large quantities of increasingly diverse types of Earth observation data are now being produced by remote sensing space systems. Making that data widely available to customers around the world is key to achieving the ultimate goals of technology development, such as:

Unfortunately, the security focus of the RSSSA drives the systems it regulates away from open access to the data produced. For example, only 3% of data from the Government’s Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) is free and open to the public. Despite being unclassified, another 50% is only available to Canadian businesses and universities (but not individuals) that pass a security screening process known as “vetting”.Footnote 24

The restrictions that the RSSSA places on open access to the data produced by systems licensed under the Act is an important impediment to space remote sensing technological development in Canada.

6. Further Implications of Technology Development for the RSSSA

The technology development introduced in Section 4 above may have additional implications for the RSSSA and other Canadian regulatory frameworks.

6.1. Data Controls

The language of the RSSSA focuses on the control of one specific type of data: Raw data from SAR systems. Other types of data (e.g., optical, thermal, hyperspectral) are not specifically mentioned. This anomaly in the RSSSA is no doubt due to the initial focus of the creators of the Act on the need to regulate Radarsat-2. However, the focus in the RSSSA on SAR raw data and not on data from other types of sensors creates two important issues:

As discussed in Section 2.2.1 above, stakeholders report another RSSSA data control issue with the use of cloud technology as part of a system licenced under the Act. This is not a technology issue as such. Instead, government security policy on the use of cloud computing has been unclear. Industry may, therefore, avoid the uncertainty and any potential problems with their RSSSA licence application by choosing more costly, less optimum data handling solutions.

6.2. Privacy

Space remote sensing has brought us tremendous knowledge and insights about our planet and human activities. This knowledge was initially available only to governments and national security entities but is now available to commercial clients around the world. The primary regulatory response to these systems has been to manage any potential national security risks as access to this valuable knowledge spreads from governments to wider audiences. The RSSSA is an example of this regulatory approach.

Now that space remote sensing information has become a commonplace commercial commodity, there is little need to continue the national security-focused regulation of such systems.

However, concerns about privacy might drive a new and different regulatory imperative for space remote sensing. The ever-increasing numbers of remote sensing satellites in Earth orbit are approaching a point of ubiquitous coverage of the planet and have the potential to infringe on the privacy of organizations and individuals.

While the RSSSA was designed in large part to protect national security interests from space surveillance, new regulations may soon be needed to protect the privacy of Canadian society in the face of such surveillance.

6.3. Big Data

Big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are technologies, like space remote sensing, that require careful consideration of potential regulatory responses to address societal concerns.

Big data techniques are bringing great benefits to society but assembling huge sets of data and applying sometime opaque algorithms to extract new insights can have unintended negative consequences. Regulatory oversight may be called for to protect the greater good.

There is an important overlap between the worlds of big data and space remote sensing. Big data generally works better on the largest possible dataset. Space systems collect vast amounts of data and are emerging as a key source of grist for the big data mill. However, adding satellite data to other big data sources is a double-edged sword. While remote sensing data can enhance the safety and security of individuals and their communities, it can also severely infringe on their privacy.

The two sets of closely related, rapidly growing, and dynamic technologies – big data and space remote sensing – raise questions across several regulatory domains (e.g., remote sensing, individual privacy) that government could best address in a coordinated fashion.

6.4. Technology Summary

Technological developments have transformed the nature of space remote sensing of the Earth in the fifteen years the RSSSA has been in force. The explosion in the numbers and quality of global commercial space remote sensing capabilities means controlling a small number of Canadian remote sensing space systems for national security purposes under the RSSSA now provides very limited practical policy benefits.

However, technology trends in the production and use of Earth observation data are raising new issues with regulatory implications that government should consider for any future evolution of the RSSSA and the other related regulatory regimes:

Space remote sensing technological developments will continue at a rapid pace. The Canadian remote space sensing regulatory framework should include assessments of the impact of technological development on the Act more often than the five-year review timeline.

7. The RSSSA within Canada’s Patchwork of Space Governance

The RSSSA operates alongside several other pieces of federal legislation and policies that touch on space issues. In some cases, space is a small part of a larger government policy mandate (e.g., regional economic development, radio frequency spectrum management). In other cases, like the RSSSA, legislation has been created to deal with specific space activities. However, Canada has no overarching space legislation to comprehensively manage and coordinate the complete space portfolio. For the most part, Canada’s various space-related laws and policies function independently of one another.

Within this loose patchwork of Canadian space governance, the RSSSA plays a significant role. It is one of the very few space-specific federal Acts and the regulatory framework it creates for an important subset of Canadian space activity – remote sensing from space – is very robust. The RSSSA is the keystone of the Government of Canada’s oversight of an important element of Canadian space activities (Canadian Earth observation revenues totalled $278M in 2018)Footnote 25, but for a purpose that is less and less useful as time passes: the RSSSA was created to address security concerns and is not designed to balance and implement all of Canada’s policy objectives for space, including the use of space systems for the benefit of all Canadians. Non-security-related policy objectives are not well served by the role of the RSSSA in governing remote sensing space systems.

7.1. The Evolution of Canadian Space Governance

Over the decades, Canada has addressed the oversight and regulation of emerging space activities through incremental changes to pre-existing legislation that overlapped with new space activities (e.g., airspace regulation by Transport Canada, radio frequency spectrum regulation by ISED), and with two pieces of space-specific legislation: the RSSSA and the Canadian Space Agency Act (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Canadian Space-Related Legislation

Canadian Space Governance is a Patchwork

Various departments and agencies have also developed other space-related policies and strategies that largely focus on individual departmental needs and priorities. These include:

7.2. RSSSA Plays a Unique Role in Canadian Space Governance

Within the patchwork of Canadian space laws, policies, and strategies described above, it can be difficult for all the relevant government officials to collectively and comprehensively balance all the government priorities and opportunities that may involve space in one way or another. This is especially important when such priorities and opportunities may compete with one another. For example:

How then are competing government goals that may impact a given space initiative reconciled? For example, how is the decision made whether economic opportunities, such as expanding or building new satellite ground stations, justify assuming some level of national security risk associated with a new remote sensing space system (Figure 8)?

Figure 8: RSSSA Limits Use of Canadian Ground StationsFootnote 26

RSSSA and problems for Canadian Ground Stations

Figure 8: RSSSA Limits Use of Canadian Ground Stations
Text version

LONG DESCRIPTION: Figure 8 includes text extracted from SPACENEWS news clip, only available in English. See Planet ground station caught in Canadian regulatory limbo - SpaceNews.

In the absence of overarching Canadian space legislation or policy, the RSSSA provides the decision-making framework that must balance any competing priorities (e.g., national security, economic development) that come into play when licensing remote sensing space systems. In effect, the RSSSA licensing process is the interdepartmental governance mechanism for those systems. This can be problematic because the RSSSA was primarily designed to address security and foreign policy concerns and not other important government goals and priorities, such as economic development.

7.3. Exempting the Crown from the RSSSA

Some stakeholders argue that the RSSSA should not be applied to government remote sensing space systems, for example those systems operated by CSA or DND. Lending some credence to this position, Section 4 (2) of the Act gives the Governor in Council broad authority to limit how the Act is applied to remote sensing space systems operated by CSA and DND.

One of the major conclusions of this Independent Review is that the controls imposed on remote sensing space systems under the RSSSA can be significantly reduced without compromising Canadian security and foreign policy interests. Any such reductions in the application of the RSSSA would certainly apply to systems operated by the Government. The fact of government ownership of such systems should be an important factor in any licensing risk-benefit analysis that might well conclude, on a case-by-case basis, that no licence was required for a given government-operated system.

However, the RSSSA has created an effective de facto process for interdepartmental coordination on important national security, economic security, and foreign policy issues associated with Canadian remote sensing satellites, including government satellites. The value of such a formal, disciplined interdepartmental coordination process dealing with these issues should not be underestimated. That value would be lost if government operators were given blanket exemptions from the RSSSA for all their remote sensing space systems. We do not recommend any blanket exemptions to the RSSSA for the Crown.

7.4. Impact of the RSSSA within Canada’s Space Governance Patchwork

The RSSSA has a unique place in Canadian space governance, as a formal regulatory framework overseeing an important portion of Canada’s activity in space (i.e., remote sensing). From this unique place, the security and foreign policy priorities of the Act, driven in large measure by twenty-year old technical and political circumstances, have significant and unwelcome implications for today’s efforts to develop and exploit space systems for the benefit of all Canadians.

7.4.1. Security Issues Dominate Decision-making

As noted in Section 3 above, the RSSSA requires that the Minister consider five specific Canadian security and foreign policy concerns before issuing a licence under the Act. The subordinate Remote Sensing Space Systems Regulations that implement the Act include an additional provision to consider “the enhancement of the competitiveness … of the Canadian remote sensing space industry” in the licensing process.

In practice, government officials tend to be quite cautious about assuming any security risks when issuing a licence under the Act. Instead, they take a precautionary approach and, as much as possible, seek to eliminate or mitigate any security risk, for example:

It is certainly appropriate for key government departments to raise their specific concerns in the RSSSA licence review process. For example, DND must highlight any concerns it may have about the potential effect of proposed space systems on the safety of Canadian Forces.

When security concerns dominate the licencing process, however, other important issues and priorities can be left behind, such as:

7.4.2. Unintended Barriers to Entry for R&D and Business

Given the focus of the RSSSA on managing potential security risks associated with remote sensing space systems, it is natural that many of the provisions in a licence issued under the Act contain security requirements, for example:

Each of these individual requirements may not seem to be particularly onerous for a licence holder to meet. However:

However unintended, the RSSSA represents a significant barrier to entry for some new Canadian space remote sensing businesses and R&D programs. Canadians and others may not be able to take full advantage of data from Canadian remote sensing space systems, even taxpayer-funded systems like Radarsat Constellation Mission.

7.4.3. RSSSA Versus Initiatives for Open Government

The licence review process under the RSSSA includes an interdepartmental assessment of the potential risks to Canada’s security from proposed remote sensing space systems and the identification of control measures to be imposed under the Act to mitigate any such risks. The risk and data management approaches that emerge from this process are, in effect, “closed by default”. There is a positive requirement to clear security hurdles before systems can be licensed and data can be provided to customers. Also of note, the review process is not public – with some justification – given its security focus.

This security-focused, “closed by default” nature of the RSSSA is consistent with the original policy goals of the Act from twenty years ago, but runs contrary to more recent federal initiatives that are designed to promote open government, such as:

The “closed by default” approach of the RSSSA was appropriate for the original circumstances and purpose of the Act. However, changes in those circumstances – described in Section 4 of this report – suggest that “closed by default” may no longer be required. Not all data can be open, but the new circumstances surrounding the RSSSA and described in this report represent an opportunity to bring the administration of the Act more into line with open government goals.

8. Canada’s International Obligations and the RSSSA

As noted above in Section 7, Canada’s space regulatory framework is fragmented and incomplete. Within this disjointed framework, the RSSSA – one of the only pieces of legislation directly governing a specific Canadian space activity – plays an important, albeit partial, role in allowing Canada to meet its international space obligations. We examine Canada’s international space obligations, the role of the RSSSA in meeting those obligations, and where Canada can improve how it meets such obligations.

For this review, we define “international obligations” as legally-binding obligations arising out of treaties, international agreements, customary international law, or unilateral declarations made by a representative of the government of Canada. The relevant international space obligations arise from the treaties and agreements listed in section 8.1 below. These obligations tend to be loosely defined and easily met.

Our analysis also considers so-called soft law obligations, those norms or principles that are not legally binding but provide best practices or have persuasive practical, social, or political value. These may come from Guidelines or Resolutions adopted by organizations such as the UN General Assembly (GA) or the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), or from best practices expressed by recognized non-governmental organizations. While these are not legally-binding obligations, we consider them in our assessment of the degree to which Canada is meeting its overall international space obligations. We also consider Canada’s statements concerning these norms and the voting pattern by Canada on the adoption of such non-binding international instruments.

8.1. Binding International Space Obligations

For Canada, there are two sources of binding international space obligations applicable to remote sensing space systems:

8.1.1. UN Treaties and Conventions

Among the broad range of space-related treaties, conventions, and other agreements that Canada has signed and ratified, three key United Nations (UN) treaties and conventions give rise to specific international obligations applicable to remote sensing space systems: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the 1971 Liability Convention, and the 1976 Registration Convention.

Canada is also a member of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and a signatory to the ITU Constitution and Convention and obliged to adhere to the regularly updated Administrative Regulations. Therefore, Canada is responsible for ensuring no licenced activities cause intentional “harmful interference” to the radio frequencies used by other duly-registered actors in exercise of their space activities. However, ITU-related responsibilities are administered in Canada by ISED under the Radiocommunication Act and are not considered further in this review of the RSSSA.

8.1.1.1. The Outer Space Treaty (1967)

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST) provides the basic legal framework for all space activities. In particular, Article VI provides that states are responsible for national space activities, whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities. States must “authorize and continually supervise” all space activities taking place under their jurisdiction.

For Canada, Sections 5 and 6 of the RSSSA require the authority of a licence for the operation of remote sensing space systems by Canadian operators worldwide and foreign operators in Canada. The resulting RSSSA licensing regime allows Canada to ensure that the remote sensing space systems it licenses meet Canada’s international obligations. As such, Canada is compliant with Article VI of the OST, at least for that subset of Canadian space systems that are subject to the RSSSA.

8.1.1.2. The Liability Convention (1971)

The 1971 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects elaborates on Articles VI and VII of the OST. The Convention defines a “launching state” as a state that launches or procures a space object’s launch, or from whose territory an object is launched. Launching states are absolutely liable for damages caused on Earth or in the airspace of another state, and liable where there is a fault for damage caused in any area beyond national jurisdiction, including in space.

As stated in the 2012 Independent Review of the RSSSA, given the liability the Government of Canada has assumed as a signatory to the 1971 Convention, it might be prudent for Canada to obligate Canadian space operators to carry relevant liability insurance. Many states require insurance for activities under their jurisdiction as a licence condition. Legislation such as the RSSSA could be a vehicle to implement this requirement, but there are no such provisions within the current Act or its Regulations.

In any event, Canada’s commitment to its international obligations under the Liability Convention has not been tested in practice. Given that Canada is the only state to have officially triggered the Liability Convention, in response to damage to Canadian territory by a Soviet-owned space object,Footnote 30 we expect Canada would meet such obligations, albeit at some apparent risk to the Canadian taxpayer (e.g., paying for damage caused by Canadian commercial space operators).

8.1.1.3. The Registration Convention (1974)

The 1974 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space creates a mechanism to identify and track space objects, namely the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. The Convention requires that states create national registries of all space objects launched under their jurisdiction and provide specific technical information to the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs, which maintains the UN Register.

In Canada, the responsibility for national and UN registration of satellites lies with the Canadian Space Agency. The RSSSA does not provide specific requirements for registration of satellites but, in the practical operation of the RSSSA licensing regime, applicants are notified of the requirement to deal with CSA for registration of satellites. The RSSSA licensing process collects considerable detailed information about the satellite systems. That information can support the registration process and could also facilitate meeting global calls for greater transparency and sharing of information in support of international space situational awareness, space traffic management, and other similar initiatives.

Canada meets its international obligations for registration of satellites, with the RSSSA licensing regime providing support for the registration of that subset of Canadian satellites that are remote sensing satellites.

8.1.2. Canada-U.S. Agreement Concerning Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite Systems (2000)

The creation of the RSSSA was a response to concerns beginning in the 1990s that new commercial remote sensing satellites could provide unique high-value information that required some government regulation to ensure it was not used in ways that might harm Canada’s interests. In particular, the emergence of Radarsat-2 as a highly capable and purely commercial follow-on to Radarsat-1 drove urgent consideration of the need for a Canadian space remote sensing regulatory regime. The RSSSA was also in part a response to related American concerns about Canadian space systems with some U.S. technology content or other U.S. involvement (e.g., potential use of U.S. launch services).

The Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Operation of Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite Systems was put in place in June 2000 to address immediate concerns about Radarsat-2, while new Canadian legislation (the RSSSA) was developed and eventually brought into force in 2007.

The bilateral agreement calls on Canada and the United States to “ensure that such commercial remote sensing satellite systems will be controlled by each Party in a comparable manner…”Footnote 31

The operational elements of the agreement only apply to specific systems as agreed by the parties, which only includes Radarsat-2, according to the available public information. By all accounts, Canada and the US are satisfied with the functioning of the bilateral agreement and the subsequent role of the RSSSA.

However, it is worth noting that the United States extensively revised its space remote sensing regulations in 2020, having recognized that its regulation of U.S. companies was largely ineffective – due to the availability of similar data from international competitors – and only served to disadvantage U.S. companies. Under the previous U.S. regulations, international EO companies were able to offer data at higher resolutions than U.S. companies were allowed to provide, placing U.S. companies at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

The US has, therefore, made a philosophical shift from evaluating remote sensing applications from a national security risk perspective towards supporting U.S. industry. The U.S. government will focus on ensuring U.S. commercial remote sensing remains competitive in the global remote sensing market and mitigating the national security risks of commercial space remote sensing systems primarily by non-regulatory means. In implementing this new approach, “[the Department of] Commerce will categorize systems based on an analysis of whether the unenhanced data to be generated by the proposed system are already available in the United States or other nations.”Footnote 32

These recent fundamental changes to the U.S. philosophy for regulating commercial space remote sensing systems have created a stark difference between the applicable Canadian and American regulatory regimes. The US has recognized and responded to the changing realities in the global space remote sensing market, while Canada continues to focus primarily on the security risks associated with remote sensing space systems. The bilateral agreement can be a driver for Canada to adopt less restrictive, industry-promoting remote sensing regulations.

The bilateral agreement may have outlived some of its usefulness given the subsequent creation of the RSSSA, which embodies the regulatory goals of the bilateral agreement. However, the bilateral agreement remains binding and its general provisions do facilitate continued coordination and collaboration by Canadian and U.S. regulators. Such collaboration can be an important tool in a process to reform and update Canadian remote sensing space system regulations.

8.2. “Soft” (non-binding) International Space Law

Aside from the binding international legal framework, there are some important non-binding instruments that have developed through international space diplomacy in the years since the RSSSA came into force. Such instruments and mechanisms are referred to here, as in much literature, as “soft law” to reflect the fact that while they have no legal force, they are important instruments designed to create some international uniformity of standards and practices, and to stimulate domestic legislation. Here we consider some UN sources of soft-law international space obligations for Canada:

8.2.1. Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space (1986)

UN General Assembly Resolution 41/65 is a longstanding statement of principles created at the tail end of the period of successful cooperation on international space governance that marked the first years of the Space Age (e.g. from the Outer Space Treaty (1967) to the Moon Agreement (1979)). The UN Principles are intended to promote remote sensing “… for the benefit and in the interests of all countries …”

Of note, Principle XII calls for sensed states to have access to remote sensing data concerning territory under their jurisdiction. Canada responds to this principle in the Remote Sensing Space Systems Regulations, Schedule 1, Section 7, which requires applicants for a licence to describe:

These UN Principles also provide accepted international definitions of key terms such as:

The RSSSA does not use the definitions from the UN General Assembly 41/65 Principles. Instead, it defines “remote sensing satellite”, “raw data”, and “remote sensing product” and does not refer to or define “remote sensing”, “primary data”, “processed data”, and “analyzed information” that are defined in the UN document.Footnote 34

If Canada amends or replaces the RSSSA, there may be benefit in reflecting on these UN definitions.

However, as remote sensing technology has diversified and become more sophisticated, it would not be necessary to adhere strictly to the terms in these UN Principles.

8.2.2. IADC Debris Mitigation Guidelines (2007)

Canada is a member of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), exchanging information on space debris research and activities.

In 2007, the IADC adopted the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, which the UN COPUOS subsequently also adopted. The Guidelines include recommendations to mitigate and control satellite debris during the development and operation of space systems.Footnote 35

Typical Canadian remote sensing regulatory practice applies the IADC Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines to a significant degree. Licensees are required to assess and mitigate debris risk for the life of proposed satellites, including end-of-life operations.

8.2.3. UN Long Term Sustainability Guidelines (2019)

The UN Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS Guidelines) are the recent product of a challenging, decade-long program of work by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.Footnote 36 The 21 voluntary guidelines are intended to ensure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and enhance the safety of space operations.

To some degree, the 2019 LTS Guidelines are a recent codification of best practices that have been well understood by many states for some time. So it is not a coincidence that the 2007 RSSSA embodies many of these best practices, even though it pre-dates the LTS Guidelines. These elements of the RSSSA include:

The RSSSA is, therefore, a useful basis for Canadian efforts to implement the LTS Guidelines.

However, given that the RSSSA only applies to remote sensing activities, it can be only one piece of a broader Canadian effort to successfully implement the LTS Guidelines. New, comprehensive Canadian space legislation could play a key role in implementing the Guidelines into binding law and demonstrating Canadian leadership on these important internationally-applied best practices.

8.2.4. UN General Assembly Resolution 75/36 on Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours (2020)

Through Resolution 75/36, the UN General Assembly encouraged Member States to: study existing and potential threats and security risks to space systems, including those arising from actions, activities, or systems in outer space or on Earth; characterize actions and activities that could be considered responsible, irresponsible, or threatening and their potential impact on international security; and share their ideas on the further development and implementation of norms, rules, and principles of responsible behaviours and on the reduction of the risks of misunderstanding and miscalculations with respect to outer space.Footnote 37

This initiative has three key pillars:

In a similar fashion to that noted above for the UN LTS guidelines, UN General Assembly Resolution 75/36 is, in part, an effort to identify and codify norms, rules, and principles that have been understood to some degree for many years. Therefore, it is not surprising that the longstanding RSSSA also embodies some of these practices, including:

Canada’s response to UN General Assembly Resolution 75/36, filed with the UN Secretary General early in 2021, emphasizes transparency and confidence-building measures, and communication protocols, as well as “norm-building with adherence to existing treaties and guidelines”.Footnote 40 The latter refers explicitly to the LTS Guidelines and to the 2007 Debris Mitigation Guidelines adopted by the UN. Any future update of the RSSSA should, therefore, consider potential stricter debris mitigation requirements and whether new communication protocols could continue to protect national security interests, but also contribute to reducing threats by increasing transparency.

As noted above for the LTS Guidelines, given that the RSSSA only applies to remote sensing space systems, it is not a sufficient mechanism for implementing all Canada’s ambitions with respect to this UN General Assembly Resolution. Creating comprehensive national space legislation would provide the enhanced scope needed to address other norms, rules, and responsible behaviours in space beyond the remote sensing focus of the RSSSA.

8.2.5. The Disaster Charter

The Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Disaster Charter) is a worldwide collaboration of space agencies and satellite companies to provide satellite-derived information and products on an emergency basis to support the response to natural and other disasters around the world.

Canada is a participant in the Disaster Charter. Typical RSSSA licencing provisions strongly support the Charter by allowing licensees to respond immediately to requests under the Charter for satellite imagery and then notifying GAC after the fact.

8.3. Other International Commitments

The regulatory tools provided to the Government of Canada by the RSSSA can also be used to support other Canadian international commitments. For example, Interruptions of Service, aka “Shutter Control”, and Priority Access (both provided for in the Act) plus Customer Access Profiles (implemented in regulatory practice) provide for the control of sensitive information from Canadian remote sensing satellites. In the first instance, such control of sensitive information would be applied for Canadian purposes such as protecting the safety of Canadian Forces. However, these controls can also be applied in international contexts, such as Canada’s membership in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

While Canada may not be formally obligated to use the RSSSA in this fashion, such support and protection of Canadian allies or promotion of other diplomatic priorities can be important international contributions that the RSSSA well enables.

8.4. Canada Meets Its International Space Obligations

Canada is meeting its international space obligations:

As with other issues addressed in this Independent Review, Canada’s response to its international space obligations would be better enabled by new comprehensive space legislation. Such legislation could address a broad range of policy goals (beyond the narrow, largely security-focused nature of the RSSSA), facilitate a leadership role for Canada in the international community as a responsible space actor, and be a key avenue to give practical effect to Canada’s notable submission in response to UN General Assembly Resolution 75/36 on responsible behaviours in space:

“From Canada’s perspective, pragmatic, non-binding standards of responsible behaviours should be applied as soon as possible which, if accepted by a majority of space-faring nations, could become legally binding international law in the future.”Footnote 41

9. Comparisons with other International Space Remote Sensing Regulations

Canada is not alone in regulating remote sensing space systems. Some countries have regulations that are similar to Canada’s. Other countries pursue some of the same policy goals as Canada but with different regulatory approaches. Many countries do not regulate space remote sensing at all.

A comprehensive review and analysis of the international space remote sensing regulatory landscape would be a valuable tool for understanding all the subtleties and complexities of the growing global marketplace for space remote sensing information, and the role of regulation in general, and the RSSSA in particular, within that marketplace. However, such a study is beyond the level of effort provided for in this Independent Review.

Instead, for the purposes of this review, SSCL examined the space remote sensing regulatory regimes of three countries that provide useful comparisons with the Canadian approach:

9.1. United States

U.S. commercial remote sensing space systems are regulated under the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992. That Act authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to license private sector organizations to operate remote sensing space systems in a manner that prevents national security risks.Footnote 42 This original focus by the US on mitigating security risks from remote sensing space systems mirrors Canada’s approach in the RSSSA.

However, in May 2020, the US finalized extensive reforms to the regulations that implement the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act. These reforms recognized the adverse impact that U.S. regulations were having on U.S. space businesses dealing with international competitors. The new American rules explicitly prioritize support of U.S. industry over the old priority of mitigating security risks from space remote sensing systems. To eliminate the burden on industry to protect national security, most permanent conditions on licences are eliminated and replaced by temporary conditions that last one to three years and are designed to allow the U.S. Government time to adapt its operations to the new technology where possible.

The new U.S. regulations identify three types or “Tiers” of remote sensing systems based on whether the type of data they produce is also available from non-U.S. regulated sources (e.g., international space remote sensing competitors.) The minimum possible regulatory controls are placed on each Tier:

The new U.S. rules also reduce the regulatory burden on industry in other ways. For example:

These changes to the U.S. regulations stand in marked contrast to the Canadian approach. Canada continues to focus on mitigating national security risks as much as possible – and in practice, this comes at the expense of the Canadian remote sensing space industry. The U.S. example should serve as a wake-up call and driver for Canadian regulatory reform.

9.2. Japan

Japanese space legislation includes:

There are many similarities between Japanese and Canadian regulations of space remote sensing, but the notable differences include:

The Japanese regulations provide some potentially useful examples that Canada should consider in any reform of the RSSSA. Japan’s The Space Activities Act and the Act addressing remote sensing data are models Canada might follow. In other words, a new Canadian General Space Act need not subsume the RSSSA.

9.3. Germany

In Germany, the National Data Security Policy for Space-Based Earth Remote Sensing Systems (SatDSiG) (2007) is designed to safeguard security and foreign policy interests and oversee satellite remote sensing data distribution and commercial marketing.Footnote 46

SatDSiG was created simultaneously with the RSSSA, with the same goals in mind, i.e., limiting national security risks from remote sensing space systems. Given these similarities, two significant differences between the two regulatory frameworks are of interest:

The German regulatory example provides insight on the use of narrowly-defined terms and a two-layered approach to data control, including an online sensitivity check completed by the data supplier. These techniques contribute clarity and efficiency to the German regulatory framework.

10. Administration of the RSSSA

As specified in Section 2 of the Act, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for administering the RSSSA, including issuing licences for remote sensing space systems.Footnote 47

10.1 GAC’s RSSSA Organization

GAC has a small section of licensing officers to administer the RSSSA. This section is located within the Non-proliferation, Disarmament and Space Division of the International Security Branch.

The nature of GAC’s RSSSA licensing section as a small, unique group within a large, complex foreign policy organization raises several issues:

Stakeholders also debate a basic question: Is GAC the appropriate department to administer space remote sensing regulations? Given the original security and foreign relations focus of the RSSSA, GAC was arguably a logical place to administer the Act. Even so, over the years, some have suggested that the Act might be better administered elsewhere – for example by ISED, which could give greater prominence to the support of Canadian industry in the operation of the Act. The U.S. example – where their space remote sensing regulations are administered by the Commerce Department – is often quoted. It is a central thesis of this Independent Review that the original security and foreign policy risks that the RSSSA addresses have been overcome by events – government can now safely prioritize the use of space to support Canadian economic and social development over security concerns from remote sensing space systems. If the RSSSA is eventually revised or replaced to address new priorities, it may make sense for some organization other than GAC to administer any new regulatory framework.

10.2. Current Regulatory Practice

The business and technology of space remote sensing have changed significantly since the original authors of the RSSSA created a strict regulatory framework to proactively manage potential security risks from remote sensing satellites. However, despite the changes “on the ground” that make strict, precautionary regulation of space remote sensing unnecessary, GAC must respect the current legislation and continue to implement the extant regulations.

Despite this difficult situation – having to apply strict regulations even as the practical circumstances demand a more liberal approach – GAC has done excellent work administering the RSSSA.

The following estimates of GAC’s RSSSA workload provide insight into the current regulatory practice and the ongoing increases in that workload:Footnote 48

Echoing comments about GAC’s steeply rising workload, several industry stakeholders expressed significant concerns about GAC’s ability to maintain its high level of customer support to their businesses. As GAC continues to deal with more and more licence submissions, with limited resources and high turnover of experienced licensing officers, major industry players are worried about a significant risk to their business operations if essential RSSSA licence support from GAC is compromised.

Throughout the Independent Review process, with a small number of exceptions, the feedback the Review team received about GAC’s administration of the RSSSA was very positive. That feedback was typified by the response to Survey Question #53, with almost 90% (15 of 17) of stakeholders reporting that GAC was approachable, helpful, and responsive in dealing with their application for a licence. (Questionnaire responses are described in more detail in Section 2.1.7 above and in Annex A.)

Overall, GAC is successfully administering the RSSSA, having due regard to the mandated security and foreign policy goals of the Act while addressing the needs of licensees as much as possible.

10.3. Interdepartmental Support of the RSSSA Licensing Process

GAC requires expert support from other government departments to properly evaluate and approve RSSSA licence applications, including:

The review team heard from multiple sources that it can be hard to obtain timely and effective advice from the appropriate authorities to support the RSSSA licensing process. For some departments, support to the RSSSA may not be a priority for their limited personnel resources. In other cases, it may be difficult to apply existing expertise and policies to novel space systems. Information technology advice from CSE was noted as a particular concern in this area. It can be difficult to identify, understand, and apply appropriate practices to protect proposed new information technology elements of a remote sensing space system, such as cloud computing.

The relatively low profile of the RSSSA licensing process and the many competing demands for the time of various government officials supporting the process can cause significant complications and delays in issuing licences under the Act.

10.4. Ongoing Improvements in Regulatory Practice

GAC has worked hard in recent years to improve the administration of the RSSSA.

GAC’s ongoing improvements in RSSSA regulatory practice show considerable promise for improving the operation of the RSSSA. However, many of the possible steps forward may be quite difficult to achieve, for example, requiring a full, government-wide regulatory review process or changes to legislation.

10.5. Other Avenues for Improvement

GAC has described three different avenues for improving the operation of the RSSSA:

In practical terms, passing new legislation to amend or replace the RSSSA is a challenging, long-term goal. Amending the RSSS Regulations could also be a long and difficult process, likely subject to the comprehensive government-wide review requirements for new regulations. Nevertheless, we have seen in this report that fundamental change to Canada’s oversight of remote sensing space systems is needed – change that will likely require new legislation or regulations. The work to define and implement the required fundamental change should start now – driven perhaps in small part by the analysis of this Independent Report.

From a short-term, more practical perspective, we also highlight two important areas for improvement that are not requiring new laws or regulations, where GAC has already made good progress and should continue its forward momentum:

10.5.1. Public Outreach, Including a Permanent Advisory Committee

As noted above, GAC has improved general awareness and understanding of the RSSSA through various outreach efforts. These efforts include addressing groups that may not have otherwise anticipated their requirement for a licence under the RSSSA (e.g., university R&D organizations). Nevertheless, it is clear from our consultations with RSSSA stakeholders that more outreach and improved understanding are effective and required.

GAC should continue and expand its RSSSA outreach activities.

In particular, the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee has been a valuable outreach tool and should be made permanent. The U.S. remote sensing regulatory framework provides a useful comparison. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES), established in 2002, provides for public consultation among government, industry, and other interested parties on remote sensing regulatory issues. Annual formal meetings improve mutual understanding among the stakeholders and work towards consensus recommendations to senior Commerce Department officials.

A permanent RSSSA Advisory committee could perform similar functions to the U.S. ACCRES:

10.5.2. Improvements to the RSSSA Licence Application Process

The RSSSA and its regulations can be difficult to understand, especially for small businesses, start-ups, university R&D groups, and others that may have no experience with such regulations or may lack ready access to legal and public policy advice. GAC has done good work recently to address this problem and improve the licence application process.

GAC recently published the RSSSA Operating Licence Application Guide, a good first step to help prospective licensees better understand the licensing process. Work is also underway on the rest of the three-part “RSSSA Client Procedures Circulars (CPC) / Series of Guides” -- an RSSSA 101 Framework Guide and an RSSSA Licence Maintenance Guide. This is valuable work and should continue as quickly as possible.

Other jurisdictions provide interesting examples of more potential improvements to the licensing process. Section 9.3 above discusses the online screening tool that allows German providers of remote sensing space data to pre-screen proposed data sales and proceed with low-risk activities. Figure 9 below highlights the United Kingdom Traffic Light System that gives potential licence applicants an early indication of the likely regulatory response to their proposals, thereby improving the efficiency of the application process for all concerned. GAC should explore implementing similar online tools to improve support to clients (especially in the early stages of potential licence applications), while also reducing some of the pressure on GAC’s very limited personnel resources.

Figure 9: U.K. Licence Screening ToolFootnote 50

Figure 9: U.K. Licence Screening Tool
Text version

LONG DESCRIPTION: Figure 9 shows the License Screening Tool of the United Kingdom. It uses three colours for the three types of risks that help guide its screening of license applications.

  • Red signifies Unacceptable risk - Operator is advised not to apply for a license for this mission.
  • Yellow signifies Uncertain risk - Operator is asked to make modifications or to provide further information.
  • Green signifies Acceptable risk - Operator is informed that, based on the information provided up to this point, the granting of a license is likely.

11. Conclusions

Based on our understanding of government mandates, space remote sensing technologies and businesses, and our extensive consultation with stakeholders in industry, academia, and government, SSCL draws the following conclusions about the RSSSA:

11.1. Operation of the RSSSA

11.2. Administration of the RSSSA

It is a major thesis of this Independent Review that Canadian regulation of remote sensing space systems under the RSSSA can and should be reduced. However, unless and until required changes to space remote sensing legislation and regulations are made, GAC must continue to operate under the existing legal framework. The Review team, therefore, assessed GAC’s administration of the Act in light of the current regulatory requirements.

GAC has done excellent work administering the RSSSA. This is true despite the complications and contradictions that GAC faces in implementing legislation that is increasingly outdated and arguably irrelevant in the emerging global marketplace of ubiquitous, lightly-regulated space remote sensing. Most of GAC’s RSSSA licencing clients speak favourably of GAC’s efforts to support them. Licences have been issued, for the most part, in a timely fashion. Nevertheless, GAC faces significant challenges:

11.3. Canadian Space Governance

The RSSSA exists within the context of an incoherent Canadian space governance structure. Various government mandates – touching on space issues to one degree or another – operate independently of one another. Sometimes these mandates operate at cross-purposes or fail to support and reinforce one another. Canadian space innovators are faced with a complex and confusing government bureaucracy when creating, licensing, and operating new space technologies.

11.4. Emerging Regulatory Issues

Current and emerging technology trends are raising new potential regulatory concerns that government may need to address, perhaps using the RSSSA, new comprehensive space legislation, or other tools (e.g., export controls, Controlled Goods procedures).

12. Recommendations

12.1. Short-Term Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Review the Policy Goals of the RSSSA and adjust Regulatory Practice

GAC should lead a formal interdepartmental review of the policy goals of the RSSSA to balance and reconcile Canadian national security and foreign policy interests with the economic development, innovation, and global competitiveness interests of the country.

The review should include a wide range of government stakeholders, not just those with national security and foreign policy mandates. To the maximum extent possible, the review should include representatives from industry and other interested parties. Expertise required for the review includes:

As much as possible, given the restricted nature of information about some security-related issues, the review should be conducted in public and its results published.

The review should:

Results of the review should include:

Recommendation 2: Continue the ongoing work to improve the RSSSA licensing process

GAC should further improve the RSSSA licensing process, including streamlining and automating some aspects of the licence application process. This should both improve the licensing experience for prospective licensees and make more efficient use of GAC resources (e.g., answering typical questions via an online tool rather than by discussion with licensing officers.) Steps should include:

Recommendation 3: Establish a permanent RSSSA Advisory Committee

GAC should:

12.2. Medium-Term Recommendations

Recommendation 4: Make further improvements to the Administration of the RSSSA by GAC

GAC should:

Recommendation 5: Create a “One-Stop Shop” for Government oversight and support of Space

The Government should name a lead Department or Agency to:

Recommendation 6: Amend the RSSS Regulations

GAC should lead the interdepartmental process to:

12.3. Long-Term Recommendations

Recommendation 7: Create a Cabinet-level Space Committee

The Government should institute a Cabinet-level committee with executive oversight of the space portfolio, similar to the U.S. National Space Council chaired by the U.S. Vice President.

Recommendation 8: Conduct a Whole of Government / Industry / Academia Review of Canadian Space Policy

The Cabinet Space Committee should give direction for a Space Policy Review to assess and reorder Canada’s priorities for space. Harnessing space for the benefit of Canada should be the primary goal of Canadian space policy. As in other areas where technology is advancing quickly, industry and academia must be at the table with government for the policy review for government to fully understand the state of the art and its impact.

Recommendation 9: Develop and Publish a National Space Policy for Canada

The Government should develop and publish a National Space Policy, based on the results of the Space Policy Review (Recommendation 8 above).

Recommendation 10: Amend or Replace the RSSSA

The Government and Parliament should amend or replace the RSSSA, based on the results of the review of the policy goals of the RSSSA (Recommendation 1 above) and the Space Policy Review (Recommendation 8 above).

Recommendation 11: Create a comprehensive Canadian General Space Act

The Government and Parliament should create a comprehensive General Space Act, based on the results of the Space Policy Review (Recommendation 8 above).

13. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

AcronymDescription
ACCRESAdvisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (United States)
ADS-BAutomatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (information broadcast by aircraft)
AIArtificial Intelligence
AISAutomatic Identification System (information broadcast by ships)
CSACanadian Space Agency
CSECommunications Security Establishment (Canada)
COPUOSCommittee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN)
DFAITDepartment of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Canada)
DNDDepartment of National Defence (Canada)
DoCDepartment of Commerce (United States)
EOEarth Observation
GACGlobal Affairs Canada
GoCGovernment of Canada
HSIHyperspectral Imaging
IADCInter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee
InSARInterferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar
ISEDInnovation, Science and Economic Development
LidarLight detection and ranging
LTSLong-term sustainability
MOEMSMicro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
NOAANational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States)
NORADNorth American Aerospace Defense Command
OSTOuter Space Treaty
PBRPassive Bistatic Radar
PNTPositioning, Navigation, and Timing
PolInSARPolarimetric synthetic-aperture radar interferometry
QKDQuantum Key Distribution
RCMRadarsat Constellation Mission
RSSSARemote Sensing Space Systems Act
RSSS RegulationsRemote Sensing Space Systems Regulations
SALSynthetic Aperture Lidar
SARSynthetic Aperture Radar
SatDSiGThe National Data Security Policy for Space-Based Earth Remote Sensing Systems
(Germany)
SPASystem Participant Agreement
SSCLSpace Strategies Consulting Ltd.
TRLTechnology Readiness Level
TTPsTactics, Techniques, and Procedures
UAVUnmanned Aerial Vehicle
UNUnited Nations
UNGAUnited Nations General Assembly

Annex A - Replies to the RSSSA Stakeholder Questionnaire

RSSSA Stakeholder Questionnaire

Canada's Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA) has been an important regulatory tool for the Government of Canada and a licencing reality for Canada's remote sensing space industry since the Act came into force in 2007.

The RSSSA requires that an Independent Review of the Act be conducted every five years -- Global Affairs Canada has selected Space Strategies Consulting Limited (SSCL) to conduct the 2022 Independent Review of the RSSSA. This review comes at an important time for Canada's remote sensing space industry, as it experiences dramatic changes in technology, business models and international competition, as part of the broad ongoing revolution in the global commercial space economy.

The Independent Review of the RSSSA is a unique opportunity for all stakeholder communities to effectively communicate their views about the current status and desired future of the RSSSA to senior government officials, Ministers and Parliamentarians.

This RSSSA Stakeholder Questionnaire is a key first step for the Independent Review team to engage with the full range of RSSSA stakeholders.

The sections of the questionnaire are:

  1. Introductory Questions
  2. Your Knowledge of the RSSSA
  3. Policy Goals of the RSSSA (including national security)
  4. Facilitating Industry
  5. Issues Surrounding Data
  6. The RSSSA and Canada's International Obligations
  7. Administration of the RSSSA
  8. Other Issues Related to the RSSSA (e.g., National Space Policy)
  9. Follow-on Communication and questionnaire submission    

Completing the full questionnaire should take approximately 30 minutes

The review team also welcomes any additional inputs or submissions stakeholders may wish to provide by email to: rsssa@sscl.solutions

We thank all concerned in advance for the invaluable contribution of their time and expertise towards the best interests of Canada's remote sensing space industry and the Government of Canada.

Section 1 - Introductory Questions

Note that the Report of the Independent Review of the RSSSA will be a public document tabled in Parliament. However, the contents of the report will be anonymized and will not name any specific stakeholder consulted by the review team. Global Affairs Canada will be provided a separate list of the names of stakeholders actually consulted by the review team.

SSCL is prepared to enter into formal non-disclosure agreements with any stakeholders who wish to do so for any portion of their engagement with SSCL as part of the Independent Review.

  1. What is your name? 37 Responses
  2. Which organization do you represent? 37 Responses
  3. What is your job title? 37 Responses
  4. Please select the category that best describes your organization
Please select the category that best describes your organization
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 19
  • Industry = 12
  • Academia - Satellite owner = 2
  • Academia/Civil Society = 2
  • Other = 2
  • Foreign Government = 0

Section 2 - Your Knowledge of the RSSSA

Please describe your level of involvement with the RSSSA

  1. My knowledge of the regulation of space-based remote sensing systems by the Government of Canada and other governments is:
My knowledge of the regulation of space-based remote sensing systems by the Government of Canada and other governments is
Text version
  • Limited = 19% (7)
  • Good = 46% (17)
  • Very Good = 27% (10)
  • Extensive = 8% (3)
  1. My knowledge of Canada's Remote Sensing Space Systems Act is:
My knowledge of Canada's Remote Sensing Space Systems Act is
Text version
  • Limited = 13% (5)
  • Good = 41% (15)
  • Very Good = 27% (10)
  • Extensive = 19% (7)
  1. Please rate your response to the following statements

Have you or your organization actively considered a potential application for a licence under the RSSSA?

Have you or your organization actively considered a potential application for a licence under the RSSSA?
Text version
  • Yes = 18
  • No = 18

Have you or your organization formally applied for a licence under the RSSSA?

Have you or your organization formally applied for a licence under the RSSSA?
Text version
  • Yes = 15
  • No = 21

Have you or your organization been granted a licence under the RSSSA?

Have you or your organization been granted a licence under the RSSSA?
Text version
  • Yes = 14
  • No = 23

Have you ever been part of the government team reviewing RSSSA licence applications?

Have you ever been part of the government team reviewing RSSSA licence applications?
Text version
  • Yes = 10
  • No = 25

Section 3 - Policy Goals of the RSSSA

The RSSSA provides for the licencing of remote sensing space systems, having regard to:

The Remote Sensing Space System Regulations list two (2) prescribed factors:

This section seeks comments on the continuing relevance and importance of the policy goals of the RSSSA.

For your reference if required:

  1. Do you have any comments on the policy goals of the RSSSA?
    • Select "Yes" to see the questions in this section.
    • Select "No" and "Next" to skip to the next section.
Do you have any comments on the policy goals of the RSSSA?
Text version
  • Yes = 27
  • No = 10

Breakdown of the 27 responses to Section 3 by stakeholder type:

Breakdown of the 27 responses to Section 3 by stakeholder type:
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 14
  • Industry = 9
  • Academia – Satellite owner = 1
  • Academia/Civil Society = 2
  • Other = 1
  1. The remote sensing space system activities governed by the RSSSA should continue to be regulated by government to support Canada’s conduct of international relations and meeting its international obligations.
The remote sensing space system activities governed by the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 48% (13)
  • Agree = 33% (9)
  • Disagree = 8% (2)
  • Strongly disagree = 11% (3)
  • Don’t know = 0% (0)
  1. The remote sensing space system activities governed by the RSSSA should continue to be regulated by government to support Canada’s conduct of international relations and meeting its international obligations.
The remote sensing space system activities governed by the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 48% (13)
  • Agree = 33% (9)
  • Disagree = 8% (2)
  • Strongly disagree = 11% (3)
  • Don’t know = 0% (0)
  1. How useful are the following controls (that can be imposed under the RSSSA) in meeting the policy goals of the RSSSA?

Customer Access Profiles (CAPs)

Customer Access Profiles (CAPs)
Text version
  • Very Useful = 37% (10)
  • Somewhat useful = 26% (7)
  • Not useful = 26% (7)
  • Don’t know = 11% (3)

Interruptions of Service (aka “Shutter Control”)

Interruptions of Service (aka “Shutter Control”)
Text version
  • Very Useful =18% (5)
  • Somewhat useful = 36% (10)
  • Not useful = 30% (8)
  • Don’t know = 15% (4)

Priority Access

Priority Access
Text version
  • Very Useful = 34% (9)
  • Somewhat useful = 33% (9)
  • Not useful = 22% (6)
  • Don’t know = 11% (3)
  1. There is a large and growing number of increasingly sophisticated international commercial remote sensing space systems, some of which may not be regulated to the same degree that similar Canadian systems are regulated. For example, under the RSSSA, Canada can limit some sales of commercial remote sensing space information based on the area of the Earth sensed or on customer profiles. Some other space-faring nations may not place such controls on sales of commercial remote sensing space information. Please rate your agreement with the following statement:

Canada’s regulation of Canadian remote sensing space systems is no longer an effective tool for national security, the defence of Canada, and the safety of Canadian Forces. (For example, prohibiting the sale of information from imaging of areas on the surface of the Earth considered to be sensitive (e.g., areas of some military operations) is not effective, given that similar information is available from other international sources.)

Canada’s regulation of Canadian remote sensing space systems is no longer an effective tool for national security
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 22% (6)
  • Agree = 15% (4)
  • Disagree = 48% (13)
  • Strongly disagree = 8% (2)
  • Don’t know = 7% (2)
  1. If you believe the RSSSA is no longer an effective tool for national security, the defence of Canada, and the safety of the Canadian Forces, please describe why:
    • 13 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. If you believe the RSSSA continues to be an effective tool for national security, the defence of Canada and the safety of the Canadian Forces, please describe why:
    • 17 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. New types of remote sensing space systems and the new types of data they produce (e.g., Space Situation Awareness (SSA), space-based ship Automatic Identification System (AIS) and aircraft Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B), other commercial “signals intelligence”, space-based bi-static radar, etc.) may or may not be subject to the RSSSA, depending upon various interpretations of the Act’s definition of a “remote sensing satellite.” Please rate your agreement with the following statements:

New types of commercial remote sensing space data (e.g., Space Situational Awareness, commercial signals intelligence, etc.) represent a legitimate policy concern for the Government of Canada.

New types of commercial remote sensing space data (e.g., Space Situational Awareness, commercial signals intelligence, etc.)
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 33% (9)
  • Agree = 52% (14)
  • Disagree = 15% (4)
  • Strongly disagree = 0% (0)
  • Don’t know = 0% (0)
  1. Government should regulate new types of commercial remote sensing space data (e.g., Space Situational Awareness, commercial signals intelligence, etc.)
Government should regulate new types of commercial remote sensing space data (e.g., Space Situational Awareness, commercial signals intelligence, etc.)
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 8% (10)
  • Agree = 26% (7)
  • Disagree = 22% (6)
  • Strongly disagree = 8% (2)
  • Don’t know = 7% (2)
  1. The RSSSA gives the Minister the authority to exempt persons, systems etc. from the application of the RSSSA. Such “Class Exemptions” are one potential mechanism to adjust the policy approaches implemented by government under the RSSSA. Please comment on the possible use of RSSSA Class Exemptions as follows

Certain commercial remote sensing space activities no longer represent a risk to Canada’s national security, etc. and should be exempted from application of the RSSSA (e.g. via “Class Exemptions” ordered by the Minister.)

Certain commercial remote sensing space activities no longer represent a risk to Canada’s national security
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 37% (10)
  • Agree = 48% (13)
  • Disagree = 11% (3)
  • Strongly disagree = 0% (0)
  • Don’t know = 4% (1)
  1. Please identify what remote sensing space activities you believe should be exempted from application of the RSSSA and describe your rationale for such exemptions (e.g., sensor type, sensor resolution, area of coverage, availability of similar data from other sources, etc.) If you wish, more extensive input (e.g., supporting analysis for your rationale) can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions
    • 23 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. If you have any additional comments concerning the policy goals of the RSSSA, please provide them below. If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions
    • 16 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

Section 4 -- The RSSSA and facilitating Canada's remote sensing space industry

In the operation of the RSSSA, government should strike an appropriate balance between meeting national security and foreign policy goals versus enhancing the competitiveness of Canada's remote sensing space industry. To help us understand the factors at play in striking the correct balance, please rate your agreement with the following statements:

  1. Do you have any comments on the role of the RSSSA in facilitating Canada's remote sensing space industry? (Select "Yes" to see the questions in this section. / Select "No" and "Next" to skip to the next section.)
Do you have any comments on the role of the RSSSA in facilitating Canada's remote sensing space industry?
Text version
  • Yes = 31
  • No = 6

Breakdown of the 31 responses to Section 4 by stakeholder type:

Breakdown of the 31 responses to Section 4 by stakeholder type:
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 16
  • Industry = 11
  • Academia – Satellite owner = 1
  • Academia/Civil Society = 2
  • Other = 1
  1. Implementing certain controls required under the RSSSA (e.g. Customer Access Profiles, Interruptions of Service, Priority Access, encryption) adds to the cost of designing, building and operating a remote sensing space system.
Implementing certain controls required under the RSSSA (e.g. Customer Access Profiles, Interruptions of Service, Priority Access, encryption)
Text version
  • Yes = 74% (23 )
  • No = 16% (5)
  • Don’t know = 10% (3)

Question 21 - Response Breakdown by Stakeholder Group

 GovernmentIndustryAcademia
Satellite owner
Academia
Space Policy
OtherTotal
Yes11902123
No221005
Don’t know300003
Total161112131
  1. The incremental costs to ensure a remote sensing space system can provide various controls required under the RSSSA (e.g. enforce Customer Access Profiles, implement Interruptions of Service, Priority Access, encryption, etc.) are:
The incremental costs to ensure a remote sensing space system can provide various controls required under the RSSSA
Text version
  • Negligible = 10% (3 )
  • Minor= 29% (9)
  • Significant = 16% (5)
  • Prohibitive = 13% (4)
  • Don’t know = 32% (10)

Question 22 - Response Breakdown by Stakeholder Group

 GovernmentIndustryAcademia
Satellite owner
Academia
Space Policy
OtherTotal
Negligible111003
Minor530109
Significant130105
Prohibitive130004
Don’t know8100110
Total161112131
  1. Please provide any additional comments you may have on the incremental costs to ensure a remote sensing space system can provide various controls required under the RSSSA.
    • 20 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. The actual implementation of national security-related requirements under the RSSSA (e.g. Customer Access Profiles, encryption) has the following impact on the ability of business to develop and serve customers for remote sensing data and services:
he actual implementation of national security-related requirements under the RSSSA (e.g. Customer Access Profiles, encryption)
Text version
  • No Impact = 27% (8)
  • Negative impact = 27% (8)
  • Very Negative impact = 10% (3)
  • Don’t know = 36% (11)

* Note that one (1) respondent to this section of the
questionnaire did not answer this question.

Question 24 - Response Breakdown by Stakeholder Group

 GovernmentIndustryAcademia
Satellite owner
Academia
Space Policy
OtherTotal
No impact421108
Negative impact240118
Very negative impact030003
Don’t know9200011
No answer100001
Total161112131
  1. The adverse business impact (e.g. lost customers, lost investors) of actual national security-related requirements imposed under the RSSSA (e.g. Customer Access Profiles, encryption) is:
The adverse business impact (e.g. lost customers, lost investors) of actual national security-related requirements imposed under the RSSSA
Text version
  • Negligible = 16% (5)
  • Minor = 23% (7)
  • Significant = 23% (7)
  • Prohibitive = 3% (1)
  • Don’t know = 35% (11)

Question 25 - Response Breakdown by Stakeholder Group

 GovernmentIndustryAcademia
Satellite owner
Academia
Space Policy
OtherTotal
Negligible301105
Minor340007
Significant150017
Prohibitive010001
Don’t know9101011
No answer000000
Total161112131
  1. The potential for the government to issue orders under the RSSSA for Interruptions of Service or Priority Access has the following impact on the ability of business to develop and serve customers for remote sensing data and services:
The potential for the government to issue orders under the RSSSA for Interruptions of Service or Priority Access
Text version
  • No Impact = 21% (6)
  • Negative impact = 34% (10)
  • Very Negative impact = 7% (2)
  • Don’t know = 38% (11)

* Note that some respondents to this section of the questionnaire did not answer this question.

Question 26 - Response Breakdown by Stakeholder Group

 GovernmentIndustryAcademia
Satellite owner
Academia
Space Policy
OtherTotal
No impact221106
Negative impact4500110
Very negative impact020002
Don’t know8201011
No answer200002
Total161112131
  1. Please provide any additional comments you may have on the impact of national security requirements from the RSSSA on commercial remote sensing space companies.
    • 16 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. In some circumstances, businesses may have options to choose what jurisdiction in which to have all, or part of a remote sensing space system licenced (for example, by choosing where to locate system ground stations). Please rate your agreement with the following statements:

There are business advantages in licencing space remote sensing systems in Canada under the RSSSA, as compared to other regulatory jurisdictions.

There are business advantages in licencing space remote sensing systems in Canada under the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 3% (1)
  • Agree = 23% (7)
  • Disagree = 19% (6)
  • Strongly disagree = 13% (4)
  • Don’t know = 42% (13)
  1. If you wish, please describe the business advantages you see in licencing space remote sensing systems in Canada under the RSSSA.
    • 15 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. The space remote sensing regulatory environment in jurisdictions other than Canada provides business advantages for space remote sensing companies, as compared to Canada's regulation of space remote sensing under the RSSSA.
The space remote sensing regulatory environment in jurisdictions other than Canada provides business advantages for space remote sensing companies
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 23% (7)
  • Agree = 35% (11)
  • Disagree = 13% (4)
  • Strongly disagree = 0% (0)
  • Don’t know = 29% (9)
  1. If you wish, please describe the business advantages you see in the space remote sensing regulatory environment in jurisdictions other than Canada.
    • 16 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. Research and Development (R&D) activities are key to technical and economic progress for Canada’s space remote sensing industry. Such activities may involve the launch and operation of test/prototype satellites and/or the early implementation of systems with limited capabilities to be replaced with later, more capable systems. The following questions explore the impact of the RSSSA on satellite R&D activities.

Are test and prototype satellites an area of development/concern for you or your organization

  1. Does your or your organization's development approach include incremental capability growth in blocks of satellites launched over months and years.
  1. In your experience, what impact do the RSSSA, RSSS Regulations and typical regulatory practice have on satellite R&D and incremental system deployments:
In your experience, what impact do the RSSSA, RSSS Regulations and typical regulatory practice have on satellite R&D and incremental system deployments
Text version
  • No Impact = 26% (8)
  • Negative impact = 26% (8)
  • Very Negative impact = 6% (2)
  • Don’t know = 42% (13)
  1. Certain satellite R&D activities should be exempted from application of the RSSSA (e.g. via Class Exemptions ordered by the Minister.)
Certain satellite R&D activities should be exempted from application of the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 27% (8)
  • Agree = 43% (13)
  • Disagree = 10% (3)
  • Strongly disagree = 3% (1)
  • Don’t know = 17% (5)
  1. Please describe what R&D activities you believe should be exempted from application of the RSSSA and describe your rationale for such exemptions. If you wish, more extensive input (e.g., supporting analysis for your rationale) can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions
    • 22 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. In a regulatory context, what other action(s) would you recommend government take to facilitate the development of Canada's remote sensing space industry?
    • 22 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)
  1. Please provide any additional comments you may have concerning the impact of the RSSSA on Canada's remote sensing space industry. If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions
    • 11 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

Section 5 - Issues surrounding data: Definitions, "Transformation", Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage

Many of the technical concepts and definitions in the RSSSA are oriented towards radar remote sensing systems. These concepts and definitions were useful in the early operation of the RSSSA (for example in licencing Radarsat), but they may not be well suited to other types of remote sensing systems (e.g. optical, hyper-spectral, etc.)

In addition, new data handling concepts and concerns have become more prominent since the creation of the RSSSA, such as:

These new data handling concepts and techniques may not fit easily into the regulatory framework originally envisioned by the RSSSA.

Your answers to the questions below will help us understand the impact of these issues.

For your reference if required:

  1. Do you have any comments on data issues and the RSSSA? (Select "Yes" to see the questions in this section. / Select "No" and "Next" to skip to the next section.)
Do you have any comments on data issues and the RSSSA?
Text version
  • Yes   28
  • No   9

Breakdown of the 28 responses to Section 5 by stakeholder type:

Breakdown of the 28 responses to Section 5 by stakeholder type:
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 13
  • Industry = 11
  • Academia – Satellite owner = 2
  • Academia/Civil Society = 0
  • Other = 2
  1. The definitions of "transformation", "raw data", and "remote sensing products" in the Act and the Regulations and their implementation in practice are well suited to my activities.
The definitions of transformation, raw data, and remote sensing products
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 0% (0)
  • Agree = 22% (6)
  • Disagree = 32% (9)
  • Strongly disagree = 21% (6)
  • Don’t know = 25% (7)
  1. Data handling requirements imposed under the RSSSA (e.g. for the control of “raw data”) have the following impact on the ability of business to adopt the data handling practices (e.g., cloud storage, cloud computing, aggregation of multiple data sources to produce end-products, etc.) that are key to the success of a modern remote sensing space system business:
Data handling requirements imposed under the RSSSA
Text version
  • No Impact = 16% (4)
  • Negative impact = 42% (11)
  • Very Negative impact = 23% (6)
  • Don’t know = 19% (5)
  1. The provisions of the RSSSA are well suited to the implementation of modern information protection and information assurance concepts and techniques.
The provisions of the RSSSA are well suited to the implementation
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 7% (2)
  • Agree = 25% (7)
  • Disagree = 39% (11)
  • Strongly disagree = 18% (5)
  • Don’t know = 11% (3)
  1. Please provide any additional comments you may have concerning the impact of data definitions and modern data handling concepts on the functioning of the RSSSA. If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions
    • 16 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

Section 6 - The RSSSA and Canada's international obligations

In general, international obligations with respect to space remote sensing stem from U.N. space treaties, agreements and guidelines.

For your information, Global Affairs Canada provides some background on space policy here:

https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/peace_security-paix_securite/space-espace.aspx?lang=eng&_ga=2.257805257.334082937.1620301258-1528407819.1620301258

The Independent Review of the RSSSA will include an assessment of whether Canada is meeting international obligations. We are soliciting comments from any interested stakeholders, including space law and policy practitioners, to inform our analysis of this issue.

  1. Do you have any comment on the RSSSA and Canada's international obligations? (Select "Yes" to see the questions in this section. / Select "No" and "Next" to skip to the next section.)
Do you have any comment on the RSSSA and Canada's international obligations?
Text version
  • Yes = 25
  • No = 12

Breakdown of the 25 responses to Section 6 by stakeholder type:

Breakdown of the 25 responses to Section 6 by stakeholder type
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 13
  • Industry = 8
  • Academia – Satellite owner = 0
  • Academia/Civil Society = 2
  • Other = 2
  1. Please rate your agreement with the following statements:

Canada meets its international obligations concerning remote sensing under the UN space treaties, agreements and guidelines

Canada meets its international obligations concerning remote sensing under the UN space treaties, agreements and guidelines
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 36% (9)
  • Agree = 52% (13)
  • Disagree = 4% (1)
  • Strongly disagree = 0% (0)
  • Don’t know = 8% (2)

The RSSSA is a useful tool in allowing Canada to meet its international obligations under the UN space treaties, agreements and guidelines

The RSSSA is a useful tool in allowing Canada to meet its international obligations under the UN space treaties, agreements and guidelines
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 28% (7)
  • Agree = 56% (14)
  • Disagree = 4% (1)
  • Strongly disagree = 12% (3)
  • Don’t know = 0% (0)

The RSSSA is a useful tool in allowing Canada to meet its international obligations within NATO and NORAD

The RSSSA is a useful tool in allowing Canada to meet its international obligations within NATO and NORAD
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 20% (5)
  • Agree = 44% (11)
  • Disagree = 4% (1)
  • Strongly disagree = 4% (1)
  • Don’t know = 28% (7)
  1. Please provide any additional comments you may have concerning the contribution of the RSSSA to Canada's ability to meet its international obligations. If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions

10 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

Section 7 - Administration of the RSSSA

This section addresses the practical functions of the RSSSA licencing process and GAC's engagement with Canada's space remote sensing community.

  1. Do you have any comments on the administration of the RSSSA? (Select "Yes" to see the questions in this section. / Select "No" and "Next" to skip to the next section.)
Do you have any comments on the administration of the RSSSA?
Text version
  • Yes = 27
  • No = 10

Breakdown of the 27 responses to Section 7 by stakeholder type:

Breakdown of the 27 responses to Section 7 by stakeholder type
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 14
  • Industry = 9
  • Academia – Satellite owner = 2
  • Academia/Civil Society = 0
  • Other = 2
  1. Please rate your agreement with the following statements:

It is clear to me if and why the RSSSA applies to my activities.

Please rate your agreement with the following statements
Text version
  • Yes = 52% (14)
  • No = 26% (7)
  • Not applicable = 22% (6)
  1. It is clear to me what information is required in an application for a licence under the RSSSA.
It is clear to me what information is required in an application for a licence under the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 11% (3)
  • Agree = 52% (14)
  • Disagree = 11% (3)
  • Strongly disagree = 4% (1)
  • Don’t know = 22% (6)
  1. The process to apply for a licence under the RSSSA is straightforward.
The process to apply for a licence under the RSSSA is straightforward
Text version
  • Yes = 33% (9)
  • No = 45% (12)
  • Don’t know = 22% (6)
  1. The following is a link to the Global Affairs Canada RSSSA licence application guide. How useful is this document?

https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/peace_security-paix_securite/RSSSA-guide-LSTS.aspx?lang=eng

The following is a link to the Global Affairs Canada RSSSA licence application guide. How useful is this document?
Text version
  • Very Useful = 33% (9)
  • Somewhat useful = 37% (10)
  • Not useful = 11% (3)
  • Don’t know = 19% (5)
  1. Please specify what additional information you would like to see in the RSSSA Operating Licence Application Guide (Part 1) or the guide to the RSSSA (Part 2) of the Client Procedures Circular (CPC). If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions

9 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

  1. Please comment on the process to review and approve a licence under the RSSSA:

The process for approving a licence under the RSSSA is clear and transparent

Please comment on the process to review and approve a licence under the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 0% (0)
  • Agree = 45% (12)
  • Disagree = 22% (6)
  • Strongly disagree = 11% (3)
  • Don’t know = 22% (6)

Global Affairs Canada was approachable, helpful and responsive in dealing with my application for a licence under the RSSSA

Global Affairs Canada was approachable, helpful and responsive in dealing with my application for a licence under the RSSSA
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 31% (8)
  • Agree = 27% (7)
  • Disagree = 8% (2)
  • Strongly disagree = 0% (0)
  • Don’t know = 34% (9)

Replies from GAC concerning my application for a licence were useful and timely

Replies from GAC concerning my application for a licence were useful and timely
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 7% (2)
  • Agree = 31% (8)
  • Disagree = 8% (2)
  • Strongly disagree = 8% (2)
  • Don’t know = 46% (12)

My licence under the RSSSA was granted in a timely fashion

My licence under the RSSSA was granted in a timely fashion
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 7% (2)
  • Agree = 15% (4)
  • Disagree = 19% (5)
  • Strongly disagree = 15% (4)
  • Don’t know = 44% (12)
  1. The ongoing administration of my licence under the RSSSA is reasonable and does not unduly burden my business (e.g. required reports, compliance inspections, etc.)
The ongoing administration of my licence under the RSSSA is reasonable and does not unduly burden my business (e.g. required reports, compliance inspections, etc.)
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 4% (1)
  • Agree = 31% (8)
  • Disagree = 19% (5)
  • Strongly disagree = 8% (2)
  • Don’t know = 38% (10)
  1. The process to make changes to my licence under the RSSSA (e.g. to add a system participant) is reasonable, timely and not unduly burdensome.
The process to make changes to my licence under the RSSSA (e.g. to add a system participant) is reasonable, timely and not unduly burdensome.
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 4% (1)
  • Agree = 18% (5)
  • Disagree = 19% (5)
  • Strongly disagree = 7% (2)
  • Don’t know = 52% (14)
  1. Are you aware of the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee?
Are you aware of the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee?
Text version
  • Yes = 18
  • No = 8
  1. Have you ever participated in the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee?
Have you ever participated in the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee?
Text version
  • Yes = 11
  • No = 16
  1. How useful is the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee?
How useful is the Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee?
Text version
  • Very Useful = 26% (7)
  • Somewhat useful = 30% (8)
  • Not useful = 0% (0)
  • Don’t know = 44% (12)
  1. Should there be a permanent RSSSA Advisory Committee, including regular public meetings with of a range of RSSSA stakeholders?
Should there be a permanent RSSSA Advisory Committee, including regular public meetings with of a range of RSSSA stakeholders?
Text version
  • Yes, definitely = 37% (10)
  • It wouldn’t hurt = 52% (14)
  • No = 4% (1)
  • Don’t know = 7% (2)
  1. The following is a link to the GAC website for the RSSSA. How useful is the format and content of this website?

https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/peace_security-paix_securite/space-espace.aspx?lang=eng

The following is a link to the GAC website for the RSSSA. How useful is the format and content of this website?
Text version
  • Very Useful = 19% (5)
  • Somewhat useful = 48% (13)
  • Not useful = 7% (2)
  • Don’t know = 26% (7)
  1. What changes would you like to see in the GAC website for the RSSSA? If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions

6 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

Section 8 - Other Issues Related to the RSSSA

  1. Would you like to comment on other issues related to the RSSSA (e.g. Canadian Space Policy, etc.)? (Select "Yes" to see the questions in this section. / Select "No" and "Next" to skip to the next section.)
Would you like to comment on other issues related to the RSSSA (e.g. Canadian Space Policy, etc.)?
Text version
  • Yes 25
  • No 12

Breakdown of the 25 responses to Section 8 by stakeholder type:

Breakdown of the 25 responses to Section 8 by stakeholder type:
Text version
  • Government of Canada = 15
  • Industry = 8
  • Academia - Satellite owner = 1
  • Academia/Civil Society = 0
  • Other = 1
  1. When licencing a space system in Canada, having to deal with multiple government departments (e.g. GAC for RSSSA, ISED for spectrum, etc.) is:
When licencing a space system in Canada, having to deal with multiple government departments (e.g. GAC for RSSSA, ISED for spectrum, etc.) is
Text version
  • Straightforward = 8% (2)
  • Burdensome = 48% (12)
  • Very burdensome = 20% (5)
  • Don’t know = 24% (6)
  1. Canada has addressed its space legislative requirements through incremental changes to existing legislation and by creating new laws to address specific areas of concern:

As a result, Canada has a patchwork of legislation that applies to various aspects of space-related activities. A General Space Act for Canada could consolidate all Canadian space law in a single, cohesive piece of legislation.

Do you believe Canada needs a comprehensive General Space Act?

Do you believe Canada needs a comprehensive General Space Act?<
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 52% (13)
  • Agree = 28% (7)
  • Disagree = 4% (1)
  • No opinion = 16% (4)
  1. In your opinion, what should be the primary goals of a General Space Act for Canada?

18 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

  1. Do you believe Canada needs a national space policy, approved at the highest levels of government, to guide officials (e.g. RSSSA licencing officers) and others as they balance various, sometimes competing, Government goals in space (e.g. protecting national security, promoting economic development, enabling research and development, etc.)
Do you believe Canada needs a national space policy, approved at the highest levels of government, to guide officials (e.g. RSSSA licencing officers)
Text version
  • Strongly agree = 48% (12)
  • Agree = 28% (7)
  • Disagree = 20% (5)
  • No opinion = 4% (1)
  1. In your opinion, what should be the primary goals of a national space policy for Canada?

18 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

  1. Please provide any additional comments you may have concerning the RSSSA, or any issues cited above. If you wish, more extensive input can be emailed to the review team at: rsssa@sscl.solutions

3 Free Text Responses (not reproduced here to preserve stakeholder anonymity)

Section 9 - Follow on communication with the Independent Review team

If you wish, you may email additional comments or submissions on any topic related to the Independent Review of the RSSSA to the review team at this address: rsssa@sscl.solutions

  1. Are you interested in being interviewed by the review team?
  1. Please provide your contact information if you would like to discuss additional comments or submissions on any topic related to the review of the RSSSA with the Independent Review team

Annex B - Technology Trends for Earth Observation

It is a key theme of this Independent Review of the RSSSA that ongoing changes in Earth observation technology are having a significant impact on how the Act should be implemented in the near term and possibly amended in the future.

For background information, this annex gives an overview of important technology development trends that will apply to Earth observation systems in the near term (1-5 years) and long term (20 years), with potential effects on the operation of RSSSA to be determined.

We use Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) as a method for describing the estimated maturity of the listed technologies. TRLs are a standardized descriptive tool used to characterize technologies during the pre-commercial development of a product.Footnote 52

TimelineTechnologyKey ImpactTRL
Next five years Multi-frequency SAR  Allows operators to change remote sensing frequencies by sending a command to the satellite. 5
Low-Frequency SAR (P- and L-bands) Ability to detect underground rivers; high penetration ability. 9
High-Frequency SAR (Ku- and Ka-bands) Provides high-resolution SAR images. Useful in glaciology. 9
Bistatic Radar Enhanced radio cross-section of a target; ability to detect stealth aircraft; small satellites can operate with a radar receiver; reliant on scattering from external radio signals. 9
Space-Based Hyperspectral Imaging  High spectral resolution. Multiple spectral bands for data exploitation. 7
Thermal Infrared Cameras Ability to detect thermal signatures on the Earth’s surface. 9
Small Satellite Bus  Low cost, short lead time, low failure impact, adaptable to space-grade commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components, agile, more launch options. 9
Flexible Solar Panels Adhere to complex spacecraft shapes, reduce installation cost, thin, lightweight, and cheaper (less material). 3
GNSS Onboard orbit determination with great precision, independent of ground stations, improving mission logistics and navigation for terrestrial systems. 9
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Diverse applications, reduced physical size, volume, weight and cost, and unique devices and components. 9
Patch Antenna Highly directional, small size, and ease of mounting due to their flatness. 9
Monopropellant Cheapest propulsion system available. Consumes little energy from the spacecraft. Easy to manufacture. 9
Phased Arrays  Electronic Steering, which translates to faster antenna tracking. Low maintenance cost.  9
Optical Communications Secure communication, high data rates, and long-distance connectivity. 9
Cloud-Based Computing Users harness the use of supercomputers for data processing and exploitation without purchasing an in-house product. 9
Open-Source Data Democratization of data enables users to obtain EO data freely.  9
Commercial services Greater availability of commercial ground stations. Users can obtain a refined product with detailed information. 9
Archival Data Analyzes trends and change detection from an area of interest. Provides the training dataset to AI. 9
Big Data Analytics Enables automation and increased speed in image analysis and interpretation. Algorithms can “learn” how to interpret the data. Ability to identify anomalies missed by human interpreters. 9
All-Source Users can gather information from sources other than SAR and Optical sensors. 9
Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems Miniaturized size; programmable; electrostatically steerable (as opposed to mechanically steerable). 4
Next two decadesDistributed Computing Decentralizes tasks by sharing the algorithms and the datasets to multiple computers. 7
Optronic Synthetic Aperture processor  Renders the ability for spacecraft to do onboard image processing at a fraction of the time from traditional processing technologies. 2
Pump Fluid Loop High thermal regulation capabilities (wide range of temperatures), ability to re-distribute the waste heat to heat up cold components during cold conditions and reject heat during hot conditions. 9
Electric Propulsion High fuel efficiency (very high specific impulse), small footprint and lighter owing mainly to a much smaller propellant reservoir and large velocity change while consuming a small amount of propellant. 6
Synthetic Aperture LIDAR Ability to create detailed images using an onboard laser. Greater detail than SAR. 3
Inflatable Antenna Low complexity compared to other deployable antennas, high packing efficiency, lightweight, high scalability 7
Regenerative Fuel Cells Low weight and volume, potential to have a lower cost, free from self-discharge, high specific energy. 2

Annex C - Existing and Near-term Earth Observation Systems

The large number of existing and soon-to-be launched Earth observations systems is an important factor in assessing the utility of the RSSSA.

For background information, the following table lists publicly-announced existing and near-term Earth observation systems.

The table headers are defined as follows:

 NameCivil/ CommercialCountry of OriginLaunch DateSize (Kg)# Of SatellitesSensor CharacteristicsData ModelData AvailabilityMission Area (the geographical and scientific area of interest)
      ActualPlanned Data ProviderValue added providerTaskableCloud storage/retrieval MaritimeIceOceanAgricultureForestryDisasterMappingHydrologyGlaciology

1

RCM (GoC)

Civil

Canada

2019

 1430 Kg

3

3

-C-Band SAR;

-Single, dual, quad pol;

-Swath Width: 20-500 Km

-Max Res: 5-50 m

-Operating Mode: Hybird Polarity Implementation; ScanSAR, Strip Map

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

-Free and Open;

--Real time for GoC only;

-Restricted access

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

2

RADARSAT-2 (MDA)

Civil

Canada

2007

2300 Kg

1

 

-C-Band SAR;

-Single, Dual, Quad Pol

-Swath Width: 10-500 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 1m

-Fully Polarimetric, --ScanSAR, Stripmap, Spotlight modes

Available

 

 

 

-Commercial Cost;

 NRT;

 Restricted access

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

3

Cosmo-SkyMed (e-Geos)

Civil

Italy

2007;

2007;

2008;

2010

 

 1900 Kg

4

4

-X-Band SAR;

-Single, Dual pol

-Swath Width: 10-200 Km

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

- Multipolarization, ScanSAR, Stripmap, and Spotlight modes

-Interferometric

Available

 

 

 

Commercial Cost;

NRT; Restricted access

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

4

TerraSAR-X, Tandem X (Airbus)

Civil

Germany

2007;

2010

1230 kg

2

2

 X-band SAR;

-Single, Dual Pol

-Swath Width: 100 km

-Maximum Resolution: <1 m

-Operating Mode: SpotLight, StripMap, ScanSAR

-Interferometric (single pass)

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

-Free for scientific research and application, Commercial otherwise;

-Latency 15 hours;

-Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

5

XpressSAR

Commercial

United States

2022

Unknown

0

4

- X-Band SAR

-Swath width TBD

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

-Operating Mode: Quad polarization, Spot, and Stripmap modes

Interferometric

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

-Commercial Cost;

-NRT;

-Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

6

ICEYE

Commercial

Finland

2018;

2019

 85 Kg

3

18

 -X-Band SAR ;

-VV Polarization

-Swath Width: 10-120 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 1x1M

-Stripmap, Spot, and ScanSAR modes

-Interferometric

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

-Commercial Cost;

-NRT;

-Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

 

7

Capella Space

Commercial

United States

2018;

2020

Denali <40Kg

1

36

- X-Band SAR

-Single Pol HH or VV

-Swath Width: 10-200 Km

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

-Operating Mode: Single Polarization HH & VV, Stripmap, and Spotlight modes

- Interferometric

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

-Commercial Cost;

-NRT availability;

-Restricted access

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

8

COSMO-SkyMed second generation

Civil

Italy

2019;

2021

810 kg

1

1

-X-Band SAR;

-Quad Pol

 -Swath Width 7-200 km;

-Best resolution: 0.5 m

-Operating modes: Spotlight, Stripmap, ScanSAR

-Interferometry, polarimetry

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

-Commercial cost;

- NRT;

-Restricted access

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

9

SAOCOM 1A & 1B

Civil

Argentina

2018;

2020

3000 kg

1

2

-L-Band SAR;

- Single, dual & quad polarization;

-Swath width 50-400km;

-Best resolution: 7m;

-Interferometric & polarimetric

-Stripmap & TopSAR modes

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

-Free & open for approved users;

-NRT availability

-Restricted access

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

10

Sentinel 1 (ESA)

Civil

ESA

2014

2300 kg

1

1

-C Band SAR;

-Dual Pol;

-Swath width: 250-400km;

-Best Resolution: 5 m;

-Interferometric;

-Stripmap std & extrawide

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

-Free & Open data

-NRT

-Web portal

-Cloud storage

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

11

Sentinel 3 (ESA)

Civil

ESA

2016;

2018

1200 Kg

2

4

- Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI- 16 Spectral Bands; Medium resolution; Pushbroom)

- Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR 11 Spectral Channels; 0.5km resolution; 1400 Km swath width)

- SAR Radar Altimeter (Ku-band; C-band; Low res. Mode and SAR mode)

- Microwave Radiometer (K/Ka-band)

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

- Free & Open Data

-NRT

- Cloud storage

- web portal

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

Sentinel 4-6 (ESA)

Civil

ESA

2023

900-1000 Kg

1

6

- High resolution UVN instrument

- 3 Designated Bands (Ultraviolet, Visible, and Near-Infrared, Shortwave-Infrared

- Swath width 8.9-670 Km

- pushbroom

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

- Free & Open Data

-NRT

- Cloud storage

- web portal

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

13

CyroSat-2 (ESA)

Civil

ESA

2010

720 Kg

1

1

- SIRAL – SAR Interferomer Laser Altimeter, Best resolution 1.6 cm/year

- LRR (Laser Retroflector)

Available

 

 

Available

-Free and Open Data

-Cloud Storage

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of data

14

NiSAR

Civil

United States/
India

2021

2800 kg

0

1

-L & S Band SAR

-Single, Dual & Compact Quad Pol

-Swath width 240km

-Best resolution 3 m

-Interferometric & Polarimetric

Available

 

 

 

-Free & open data for approved projects

-NRT

-Cloud storage

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

15

Terra (NASA)

Civil

United States

1999

5190 Kg

1

3

- ASTER - Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer

- CERES - Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System

- MISR - Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer

- MODIS - Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

- MOPITT - Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere

Available

 

 

Available

- Free and Open

- Cloud Storage

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

16

SWOT (NASA)

Civil

United States

2021

2000 Kg

0

1

- Bistatic KA-Radio Interferometer

- Swath Width 100 Km

- Maximum Resolution 10m

- Flexible modes

Available

 

 

Available

- Free and Open

- Cloud Storage

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

17

NOVASAR

Civil

United Kingdom

2018;

430 kg

1

3

-S Band SAR

-Single, Dual & Tri Pol

-Swath width 13-400 km

-Best resolution 6m;

- Stripmap & ScanSAR

Available

 

Available

 

- Commercial cost;

- NRT;

- Restricted

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

18

OptiSar (Urthecast)

Commercial

Canada

2020

Radar Unit Mass Approx. 1800Kg

 

Optical Unit Mass Approx. 700Kg

0

 

16

- SAR (X-Band and L-Band); - High Resolution Optical (Dual-mode camera)

-Swath Width: SAR (10-100 Km); High res. Optical (<13 Km)

-Maximum Resolution: SAR (5m); High res. Optical (0.5m)

-Operating Mode: SAR (L-Band utilizes multi-polarization; X-Band utilizes VV Polarization), Stripmap, and ScanSAR modes; High resolution optical (pushbroom, or video)

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

19

Urthe Daily (Urthecast)

Commercial

Canada

2022

380Kg

0

8

- 9 Spectral Bands VNIR

-Swath Width: 360 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 5m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

20

DMC3/TripleSat (Earth-i)

Commercial

United Kingdom

2015

447Kg

 3

3

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 23 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan (<1m); MS (<4m)

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom

 

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

21

KOMPSAT-2, -3, -3A, -5 (Earth-i)

Civil

South Korea

2006;

2012; 2013; 2015

Approx. 1000Kg

4

4

- RGB and Panchromatic (EOIR); X-Band (SAR)

-Swath Width: 15 km (EOIR); 100 km (SAR)

-Maximum Resolution: 4 m

-Operating Mode: Spotlight, Standard/Strip Mode, Wide Swath mode (SAR ONLY)

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

22

Superview -1, -2, -3, -4 (Earth-i)

Commercial

China

2016; 2018

560Kg

4

4

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 12 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan (0.5m); MS (2m)

-Operating Mode: Stripmap, and point modes

Available

Available

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of data

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

23

Vivid-i (Earth-i)

Commercial

United Kingdom

2018

2020

Approx. 100Kg

1

15

- COTS telescope HD video camera

-Swath Width: 5 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 1m

-Operating Mode: Stripmap, and Target Tracking modes

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

System can sense this type of data

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

24

GeoEye-1 (Digital Globe)

Commercial

United States

2008

1955 kg

1

1

- Panchromatic, Multispectral

-Swath Width: Approx. 15Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan <0.5m; MS <2m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom and Line Scan modes

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

25

WorldView 1 (Digital Globe)

Commercial

United States

2007

2,500 kg

1

1

- Panchromatic

-Swath Width: Approx. 18 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan 0.5m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

- Commercial Cost

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

26

WorldView 2, 3 (Digital Globe)

Commercial

United States

2009; 2014

2,800 kg

2

2

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: Approx. 13-16km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan <0.5m; MS <2m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom or lines can modes

Available

Available

Available

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

27

WorldView-Legion 1-6 (Digital Globe)

Commercial

United States

2021

< 750 kg

0

6

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 9Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan <0.5m; MS <2m

-Operating Mode: Unknown

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

28

WorldView-Scout 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Digital Globe)

Commercial

United States

2020s

Unknown

0

6

- Unknown

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

-Operating Mode: Unknown

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

29

Sky-Sat-1 to Sky-Sat 15 (Planet Labs)

Commercial

United States

2016 through 2018

80-120 kg

15

15

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 8 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan (<1m); MS (2m)

-Operating Mode: Stripmap, and pushframe modes

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

30

Black Sky Global

Commercial

United States

2018; 2019

56 Kg

4

60

- Visible Panchromatic/Colour

- Swath Width: 250 Km

- Maximum Resolution: <1m

- Operating Mode: Staring, Motion, and Low Light modes

Available

Available

Available

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

31

Pleiades -1A, -1B (Airbus)

Commercial

France

2011; 2012

970 kg

2

2

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 20-800 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan (<1m Pan); MS (<3m)

-Operating Mode: MultiSpot mode

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

- Free, and Open;

- NRT

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

32

Spot-6, -7 (Airbus)

Civil

France

2012; 2014

860 kg

2

2

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 60-120 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan (2m); MS (8m)

-Operating Mode: Stripmap, and HR modes

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

- Free, and Open;

- NRT

System can sense this type of data

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

33

Sentinel-2 (ESA)

Civil

ESA

2015; 2017

1140 kg

2

2

- Multispectral (VNIR and SWIR)

-Swath Width: 290 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 10m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

- Free, and Open;

- NRT

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

34

Proba-V (ESA)

Civil

ESA

2013

158 Kg

1

1

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

- Swath Width 2200 Km

- Maximum Resolution 100 m

- Pushbroom

Available

 

Available

Available

- Free and Open

- Cloud Storage

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

 

35

EROS A, B (ImageSat)

Commercial

Israel

2000;

2006

 

360 kg

1

2

- Panchromatic

-Swath Width: 7-15 Km

-Maximum Resolution: EROS A (2m); EROS B (<1m)

-Operating Mode: Spot mode

Available

 

AvailableAvailable

- Commercial Cost;

- NRT

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

36

Hera Systems

Commercial

United States

2020-2021

22 kg

0

50

- Frequency: Unknown

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

-Operating Mode: Unknown

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

- Commercial Cost;

- NRT;

- Restricted access

System can sense this type of data  System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data 

37

Satellogic (NuSat Constellation)

Commercial

Argentina

2016; 2017; 2018; 2020

37 kg

8

90

- Hyperspectral, Panchromatic, Multispectral, Thermal Infrared

-Swath Width: 5-150 Km

-Maximum Resolution: HS (30m); Pan (1m); MS (1m); TIR (90m)

AvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

- Commercial Cost;

- Restricted access;

- NRT

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

38

Canon

Commercial

Japan

2017

Approx. 50 kg

1

2

Frequency: Unknown

-Swath Width: 6x4 Km

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

-Operating Mode: Unknown

Available

 

 

 

- Commercial Cost

- Restricted

 

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

 

39

GHGSat (GoC)

Civil

Canada

2016

15 Kg

1

3

- Hyperspectral SWIR Imaging

Spectrometer

- Swath Width 15 Km

-Maximum Resolution <50 m

Available

 

 

Available

- Free and Open

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

40

Landsat

Landsat-7, -8, and -9 (NASA)

Civil

United States

1999; 2013;

2021

2,500 kg avg.

2

3

- Panchromatic, and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 185 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan 15-30m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom mode

Available

 

 

Available

- Free, and Open

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

41

PACE (NASA)

Civil

United States

2022

1700 Kg

0

1

- Ocean Colour Instrument; HARP-2

SPEXone;

- SWIR/Polarized Bands

- Swath Width: 100-2660 Km

- Maximum Resolution: 5m

- Acquistion Mode

Available

 

 

 

- Free and Open

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

42

Aqua (NASA)

Civil

United States

2002

2934 Kg

1

3

-AMSR/E - Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS

-MODIS -Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

-AMSU -Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit

-AIRS - Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

- HSB - Humidity Sounder for Brazil

- CERES - Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System

Available

 

 

Available

- Free and Open

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

43

ICESAT-2 (NASA)

Civil

United States

2018

1387 Kg

1

1

- Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS)

- Swath Width 650 ft.

- Maximum Resolution 10 m altitude resolution

- Point mode

Available

 

 

Available

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

44

TEMPO (NASA)

Civil

United States

2022

Unknown

0

1

- UV/Visible Spectrometer

- Linear Arrays, and 2 CCDs

- Maximum Spectral Resolution 0.2- 1 nm

Available

 

 

Available

- Free and Open

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

45

GF -8, -9, -11, -7, GF 2-A (CNSA)

Civil

China

2015; 2018;

2019;

GF-8,-9,-11,-7 2,400 kg; GF-2A 230 Kg

5

5

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 69-840 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan 2m; MS 8m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom with TDI capability

 

Available

 

 

 

- Unknown

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

46

Jilin-1 Optical-A; (CNSA)

Civil

China

2015

420 kg

1

1

- Panchromatic and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 40 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan <1m; MS <3m

-Operating Mode: Unknown

Available

 

 

 

- Unknown

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

47

CartoSat-1

CartoSat-2, -2A, -2B, -2C, -2D, -2E, -2F,

CartoSat-3 (ISRO)

Civil

India

2005; 2007; 2008; 2010;

2014; 2016; 2017; 2019

1560 Kg, 684 kg, 690 kg, 694 kg, 727.5 kg, 712 kg, 712 kg, 710 kg, 1625 Kg

9

9

Frequency: Panchromatic, and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 5-16 Km

-Maximum Resolution: <0.5m

-Operating Mode: Stripmap, Spotlight, and Paint -brush mode

 

Available

 

 

Available

- Free and Open

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

48

Shizuku (GCOM-W1) (NEC Corp.)

Civil

Japan

2012

1990 kg

1

1

- C-Band

-Swath Width: >1450 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 3x5 Km

-Operating Mode: Vertical and Horizontal Polarization; Conical Scan Mode

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

 

System can sense this type of data

 

49

(Asnaro-1) (NEC Corp.)

Civil

Japan

2014

<500 Kg

1

1

- Panchromatic, and Multispectral

-Swath Width: 10 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan <0.5m; MS 2m

-Operating Mode: Snapshot, Stripmap, 3D, and Wide view modes

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost

 

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

50

GCOM-C1 (Shikisai) (NEC Corp.)

Civil

Japan

2017

1950 kg

1

1

- VNIR, SWIR, TIR Optical

-Swath Width: 1150-1400 Km

-Maximum Resolution: 250m

-Operating Mode: Pushbroom, and Whiskbroom;

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

51

Asnaro-2 (SAR Radar) (NEC Corp.)

Civil

Japan

2018

570 kg

1

1

- X-Band

-Swath Width: 10-50 Km

-Maximum Resolution: <1m

-Operating Mode: HH, and VV Polarizations; Spotlight, Stripmap, and ScanSAR modes

 

Available

Available

 

Available

- Commercial Cost

 

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

52

Tubitak-Uzay (Gokturk 1A, option for 1B)

Civil

Turkey

2016

1060 kg

1

2

- Panchromatic, Multispectral

-Swath Width: 20-800 Km

-Maximum Resolution: Pan <1m; MS 2m

-Operating Mode: Stripmap mode

Available

 

 

 

- Unknown

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

53

NorthStar Earth and Space Inc.

Commercial

Canada

2021

TBD

0

40

- 250 channels VIS, NIR, SWIR, TIR

-Swath Width: TBC

-Maximum Resolution: TBC

-Operating Mode:

Stripmap

AvailableAvailable

 

Available

- Commercial Cost;

- NRT

System can sense this type of data

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

 

54

Spire Global

Commercial

United States

2015-Present

4 kg

>8

10

 

- AIS, GNSS

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: 100m-2Km

-Operating Mode: Unknown

Available

 

 

 

- Commercial Cost

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

55

OrbComm (OG2 Constellation)

Commercial

United States

2010-2015

172 kg

 

 

 

 

12

18

- AIS, M2M

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: Unknown

-Operating Mode: Unknown

AvailableAvailable

 

 

- Commercial Cost;

- NRT;

- Restricted access

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

56

Aireon

Commercial

United States

2017-2019

860 kg

66

66

- ADS-B

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: Unknown

-Operating Mode: Unknown

 

Available

 

 

 

- Commercial Cost;

- NRT

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

57

Hawkeye 360

Commercial

United States

2018

13 kg

3

15

- Software Defined Radio (70MHz-6Ghz)

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: Unknown

-Operating Mode: Point mode

Available

 

 

 

- Commercial Cost

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

 

System can sense this type of data

 

 

 

58

Planet IQ

Commercial

United States

2023

Approx. 30 kg

0

20

Frequency: GPS Radio Occultation

-Swath Width: Unknown

-Maximum Resolution: Unknown

-Operating Mode: Unknown

Available

 

 

 

- Commercial Cost

 

 

System can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of dataSystem can sense this type of data

Annex D - Documents used in the Independent Review

Documents Identified by GAC

Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (S.C. 2005, c. 45). 25 November 2005. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/r-5.4/FullText.html

Remote Sensing Space Systems Regulations (SOR/2007-66). 5 April 2007. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/SOR-2007-66.pdf

Jakhu, Ram S., et al. 2012 Independent Review of the Remote Sensing Space System Act. 22 March 2012. McGill Faculty of Law. https://www.mcgill.ca/iasl/files/iasl/2012_final_report_of_independent_review_of_rsssa_with_appendices_en.pdf2017

Jakhu, Ram S. and Aram D. Kerkonian. 2017 Independent Review of the Remote Sensing Space System Act. 17 February 2017. McGill Faculty of Law. https://www.mcgill.ca/iasl/files/iasl/2017_review_of_canadas_remote_sensing_space_systems_act_en.pdf

Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The RSSSA Operating Licence Application Guide (Version 1.1). 8 March 2021. https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/peace_security-paix_securite/RSSSA-guide-LSTS.aspx?lang=eng

Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee Documents. Various dates. McGill Faculty of Law. https://www.mcgill.ca/iasl/rsssa

Ad Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee Meeting Notes

Ad-Hoc RSSSA Advisory Committee Supplementary Documents

Global Affairs Canada (GAC). RSSSA Modernization Annual Report. 31 March 2020.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Second Annual Report on Modernization of the RSSSA (RSSSA Modernization Task). 31 March 2021.

Other Documents

102nd Congress (USA). H.R.6133 - Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992. 28 October 1992. https://www.congress.gov/bill/102nd-congress/house-bill/6133.

Acharya, Lalita. Legislative Summary LS-499E – BILL C-25: AN ACT GOVERNING THE OPERATION OF REMOTE SENSING SPACE SYSTEMS. 20 December 2004. https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/ResearchPublications/LegislativeSummaries/421C25E

Aerospace Review. Aerospace Review Report (Volume 1 & 2). 2012. http://aerospacereview.ca/eic/site/060.nsf/eng/h_00003.html

Aoki, Setsuko. Space Legislation in Japan. 5 April 2019. COPUOS. https://www.unoosa.org/documents/pdf/copuos/lsc/2019/tech-05E.pdf

Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Canada Space Agency Position Paper for RSSSA Independent Review. 27 July 2021.

Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada. 18 March 2019. https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/publications/space-strategy-for-canada/default.asp

Christopherson, J.B., Ramaseri Chandra, S.N., and Quanbeck, J.Q. 2019 Joint Agency Commercial Imagery Evaluation—Land remote sensing satellite compendium: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1455. 2019. https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1455

Department of Commerce (USA). licencing of Private Remote Sensing Space Systems. 20 May 2020. NOAA-NESDIS-2018-0058. Page 30791. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/20/2020-10703/ licencing-of-private-remote-sensing-space-systems.

Department of External Affairs (Canada). Claim Against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for Damage Caused by Soviet Cosmos 954, reprinted in 18 I.L.M. 899. 1979.

Department of National Defence (DND). Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy. 7 June 2017. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/policies-standards/canada-defence-policy.html

Department of Space (India). Draft Space-Based Remote Sensing Policy of India (SpaceRS Policy). 20 November 2020. https://www.isro.gov.in/sites/default/files/spacers_policy_ngp_2020_draft.pdf

Diet (Japan). The Act on Ensuring Appropriate Handling of Satellite Remote Sensing Data (the Remote Sensing Data Act). 16 November 2016. https://www8.cao.go.jp/space/english/rs/rs_act.pdf

Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Germany). The National Data Security Policy for Space-Based Earth Remote Sensing Systems (SatDSiG). 1 December 2007. https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Downloads/S-T/satdsig-hintergrund-en.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=1

Foust, J. Planet sets deadline for Canadian ground station licence. 13 February 2018. Space News. https://spacenews.com/planet-sets-deadline-for-canadian-ground-station- licence/

Gabrynowicz, Joanne I. A Brief Survey of Remote Sensing Law Around the World. 18 November 2010. National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law. https://www.unoosa.org/pdf/pres/2010/SLW2010/02-13.pdf

Gabrynowicz, Joanne I. The Land Remote Sensing Laws and Policies of National Governments: A Global Survey. November 2013. University of Mississippi School of Law. http://joannegabrynowicz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Gabrynowicz-RS-Law-Global-Survey-II.pdf

Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Operation of Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite Systems. 16 June 2000. Canada Treaty Series, 2000/14. https://www.treaty-accord.gc.ca/text-texte.aspx?id=103522.

HyspIRI Mission Concept Team, Jet Propulsion Laboratory. HyspIRI Comprehensive Development Report. January 2015. California Institute of Technology.

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Canada. Consultation Paper for the Space Advisory Board: Driving Canada’s Future in Space. April 2017. https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/082.nsf/eng/03984.html

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Canada. ISC Technology Readiness Level Scale. 28 January 2020.

Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. What’s IADC? 2019. https://www.iadc-home.org/what_iadc

Jones, Harry W. NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. The Recent Large Reduction in Space Launch Cost. 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems 8-12 July 2018, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/bitstream/handle/2346/74082/ICES_2018_81.pdf?sequence=1

Kerkonian, Aram D. Space Regulation in Canada: Past, Present and Potential. 25 March 2021. Springer. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-68692-5#authorsandaffiliationsbook

Kerkonian, Aram D. The Impact of US Remote Sensing Regulatory Reform on Canada. Wolters Kluwer, Air and Space Law, Vol. 45, Issue 6. 2020. https://kluwerlawonline.com/journalarticle/Air+and+Space+Law/45.6/AILA2020068

Koller, Dr. Josef S. The Future of Ubiquitous, Realtime Intelligence: A Geoint Singularity. The Aerospace Corporation, August 2019. https://csps.aerospace.org/sites/default/files/2021-08/Koller_FutureUbiquitous_08082019_2_0.pdf

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Main trends and challenges in the space sector. June 2019. https://www.pwc.fr/fr/assets/files/pdf/2019/06/fr-pwc-main-trends-and-challenges-in-the-space-sector.pdf

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Copernicus Market Report – February 2019. February 2019. European Commission. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. https://www.copernicus.eu/sites/default/files/PwC_Copernicus_Market_Report_2019.pdf

Pace, Scott. The Regulation of Commercial Remote Sensing Systems. March 1994. The RAND Corporation. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/testimonies/2006/CT112.pdf

The International Charter Space and Major Disasters. How the Charter Works. 2021. https://disasterscharter.org/web/guest/how-the-charter-works

The Space Foundation. The Space Report (Quarterly). 2020. https://www.thespacereport.org

Tilli, Marku, et al., editors. Handbook of Silicon Based MEMS Materials and Technologies (Third Edition). 2020. Elsevier.

Townsend, LTC Brad. The Remote Sensing Revolution Threat. Strategic Studies Quarterly, Fall 2021. https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Portals/10/SSQ/documents/Volume-15_Issue-3/Townsend.pdf

UK Parliament. Space Industry Act 2018. 15 March 2018. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/5/contents

UK Civil Aviation Authority. Traffic Light Assessment. 2015. https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Space/Orbital-satellite-operators/Applying-for-a-licence-to-operate-a-space-object/

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Canada’s Submission to UN GA A/RES/75/36 Resolution “Reducing Space Threats through norms, rules and principles of Responsible Behaviour”. 2021. https://front.un-arm.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/75-36-EN-CDN-national-sub-on-space.pdf

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours. 7 December 2020. A/RES/75/36. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N20/354/39/PDF/N2035439.pdf?OpenElement

United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). UN Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. 7 June 2020. ST/SPACE/79. https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/oosadoc/data/documents/2021/stspace/stspace79_0.html

United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). UN Principles Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Outer Space. 1986. A/RES/. https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/principles/remote-sensing-principles.html

Verspieren, Q. Satellite Remote Sensing in ASEAN: A Critical Review of National Data Policies. 24 August 2018. Advances in Astronautics Science and Technology 1, 61–68. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42423-018-0013-5

Zhang, Xiaopeng, et al. Research on the Policies and Laws of International Civilian Remote Sensing Satellites and their Problems. 8 February 2020. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. Volume XLII-3/W10. https://www.int-arch-photogramm-remote-sens-spatial-inf-sci.net/XLII-3-W10/821/2020/isprs-archives-XLII-3-W10-821-2020.pdf

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