Canadian Space Agency set to get first female president as space race gains steam

The Canadian Space Agency will get its first female president this month as the space race continues to heat up, with private firms working alongside governments to put humans once again on the moon.

And no, she hasn’t yet watched Space Force on Netflix.

Lisa Campbell takes over the role on Sept. 14 after most recently working as associate deputy minister of veterans affairs. Before that, she led the defence and marine procurement arm of Public Services and Procurement Canada and has been involved in prominent files, including the fighter jet replacement.

In an interview with Global News, Campbell said the world is changing and Canada needs to be in the centre of “a new era” for space exploration that will see the private sector playing an ever more prominent role and existing beliefs being challenged about how to push forward into the universe.

Obviously, this is an exciting time to be in the space field. Governments around the world and private sector are investing heavily because of all of the potential,” she said.

“It’s important from an economic recovery perspective as well. The aerospace industry’s been hit hard with what’s been going on around the world with the pandemic.”

“Space spending by our government and by the private sector has grown exponentially as it has around the world,” she continued. “It’s going to be very important in promoting innovation, economic recovery after the pandemic.”

Beyond the privatization, space is also becoming more militarized.

The Trump administration continues to tout the need for a “space force,” citing growing threats of Chinese and Russian dominance in the sphere.

All the while, the world on the ground is ever more reliant on the invisible, powerful network of signals from satellites circling the Earth to power everything from telecommunications systems to the ability to predict the weather from one day to the next.

According to the International Data Corporation, a global market intelligence service, the value of the internet of things — a term used to describe all of the devices and products hooked up to the internet — is projected to spike from $13.5 billion in 2019 to $21.8 billion by 2023.

And that’s just in Canada.

Globally, the market is projected to top $1 trillion in value by 2022, according to a forecast from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Campbell wouldn’t weigh in on whether satellites powering Canadian networks and technology should be viewed as critical infrastructure but said it’s clear that there are growing questions about how to maintain peace and stability in space.

“Much of this is emerging,” she said, describing space exploration as something that “stress-tests all of our existing beliefs.”

“It’s a new era. So we do need to leverage our partnerships with counterpart agencies around the world and be very present in what is a new world and be very present in what is a new era of space exploration in the world.

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