Monday, December 18, 2006

Is there something Liberal about robotics?

The rationale for this (CBC, seen at James Bow) escapes me. Space robotics is a field when Canada can truly claim to be a world leader, where the Canadarm and Canadarm2 are integral parts of current space missions, but the Harper government has just refused to permit the Canadian Space Agency's participation in a European Mars Rover project even though no additional funds were required, just permission to reallocate existing funds. The Europeans appeared to regard it as a formality and are now scrambling to find a replacement.

Is it because Marc Garneau ran for the Liberals? Were the funds being reallocated originally destined for Quebec and thus Minister Bernier couldn't abide it? Who is going to get answers to these questions?

Via Hassenpfeffer, New Scientist's David Shiga writes:
For a country with a relatively small population, Canada has made some very respectable contributions to spaceflight, producing several astronauts and a robotic arm for the space shuttle.

But if the country wants to do more than rest on these laurels, it will have to step up, and building the ExoMars rover would have been an ideal project to make Canadians proud.

Instead, Canada has jettisoned what looked like a done deal, leaving its ESA partners in the lurch. I can only hope that the government will change its mind and salvage some Canadian role in the project before it's too late.

Truly "a penny wise and a pound foolish". More and more Canada's word is not to be trusted.
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