By Sean Costello/ SpaceFlight Insider
OTTAWA, Ontario, Nov. 30, 2015 — During an evening reception at the Ottawa offices of Mission Control Space Services, Inc., President and CEO Ewan Reid proudly confirmed receipt of their first technology development contract with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
An organization self-described as being one part space technology consultancy and one part technical development firm, Mission Control is now charged with developing an Autonomous Soil Assessment System (ASAS) for planetary rovers. The company is expected to advance the technology from Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2 to TRL 4 with the eventual objective of deploying this technology on a planetary exploration mission.
In attendance at the event were dozens of friends, colleagues, collaborators, and project supporters drawn from the local aerospace, engineering, technology, and academic communities.
“A new paradigm is emerging in the space industry,” Reid said, speaking to the trend of countries and national space agencies reaping the benefit of increased levels of engagement with private sector firms and research organizations. “What was once solely the domain of governments, the military and big business is changing with advances in energy, computer processing and materials. A new landscape is emerging, where access to space is now cheaper and easier than it’s ever been before.”
Reid’s firm is poised to bridge the gap between Earth-bound and space-based technologies, ensuring that advances in one area are efficiently and creatively made available to the other.
The $500,000 technology development contract calls for a 21-month engagement with CSA, specifically aimed at advancing the capabilities of Mission Control’s ASAS.
“This was identified by the Canadian Space Agency as one of 23 priority technologies for advancement in order to push forward their mission roadmap,” Reid said. “Mission Control’s ASAS technology will enable the real-time, forward characterization and classification of terrain, allowing an already autonomous rover to avoid planning paths across terrain where it might otherwise get stuck and potentially end the mission.”
During Reid’s formal remarks, he also highlighted the importance of having received the support and startup benefits afforded to his company as a member of Carleton University’s Lead To Win incubator and mentorship program.
“It has been so great to have received exactly the kind of support that we needed to start up and launch this kind of company,” Reid said.
Lead to Win is operated as a part of the Technology Innovation Management (TIM) program within Ottawa’s downtown Carleton University. Present for the pre and post-announcement receptions were Lead to Win faculty and staff members Steven Muegge and Emily Byron, who each explained to attendees the program’s mandate and approach to fostering innovation and entrepreneurial growth within the local community.