The most exciting moment of my life happened on the 3rd of February during the presentation of Sylvain
Laporte, the President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). I was sitting at a table in the center of the
room in my best (my only) suit watching Mr. Laporte like a hawk and trying to pick up every detail of his
prepared speech. My fellow AlbertaSat colleagues and mentors (1) were attending the 1st Canadian
Smallsat Symposium and we were surrounded by space giants (2) doing our best to network the potential
that ourselves, AlbertaSat and the U of A have to offer the space industry.
We were at that conference for a number of reasons, a big one being that all of our student members
gave presentations (which were all great, we will upload videos soon) on our own research or work
pertaining to space. Additionally, we were there to network, to learn and to experience an industry that
is absent in our beautiful province.
So there I was listening to the President of the CSA (3) go through slides of information pertaining to the
Canadian space industry, our space accomplishments and some new CSA stuff (4) when the most awesome
thing in the world happened (5).
A slide titled “AlbertaSat” appears on the screen. Pictures of Collin Cupido, Tyler Hrynyk and Charles
Nokes (6) in the clean room building the Experimental Albertan #1 (Ex-Alta #1) Satellite fill the screen.
Sylvain speaks (I’m paraphrasing) “We would also like to congratulate the work done at the University of
Alberta on the Ex-Alta #1 Satellite. We are looking forward to seeing their progress in the future and
their upcoming launch. I believe a large number of them are in the crowd today (7).”
And then he said it.
“Is Chris Robson here?”
The President of the CSA is talking to me? What do I do? Do I stand up? Am I getting an award? Are
my pants on?
I waved. (8)
Sylvain: “Have you presented already?”
Me (desperately trying not to explode): “I have”
Sylvain: “How did it go?”
Me: “Awesome” (9)
Sylvain (again paraphrasing): “Everyone here should go and talk to AlbertaSat. Strongly consider working
with them in the future. Hint hint MDA and ComDev”
My ego aside, this was an exciting day for AlbertaSat and in fact, I like to think of that moment as a
conversation between Mr. Laporte and our team and an affirmation that we are on the right path. I
remember when we started Ex-Alta 1 4 years ago and it was only myself and a couple other members
taking the reins from the previous AlbertaSat-1 project. We had nothing. We had no money. We didn’t
know anything. We had no resources. No one took us seriously (for completely rational reasons).
4 years later, we have an excellent team of students and faculty building Alberta’s first satellite, which is
launching in July of this year by the way, working towards a future space program in Alberta, going to
swanky conferences and networking with space giants, and being publicly saluted by Sylvain Laporte for
the fruits of our efforts.
Looking back on that moment and on the conference, a few things spring to my mind. In addition to that
awesome moment, we made friends, future colleagues, learned a great deal about the industry, built
the foundations for future relationships, gave awesome presentations and made a name for Alberta and
the U of A.
I look back on that conference and the last few years with pride for what we have accomplished, the
people we have become and excitement for what’s coming next.
And believe me about what’s coming next, even with all you have seen before, you ain’t seen nothing
#Lift off Alberta.
~ Chris Robson
Previous Project Manager & Current Mechanical Team Lead
1 Tyler Hrynyk, Jon Grey, Darian Van Paridon, Stefan Damkjar, Nathan Klapstein, Brenden Bruner, Dr.
Carlos Lange and Dr. Duncan Elliott. Most excellent people.
2 By which I mean industry and academic leaders, not actual space giants, that would be both terrifying,
incredibly cool and physiologically intriguing.
3 Really awesome guy, I hope he sticks around.
4 I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much from this. Mostly because the next part was so incredibly
awesome that I forgot everything else.
5 Relative to my own experience of course. I imagine that the bloke who first figured out that heat + fuel
= fire thought that fire was the most awesome thing in the world. That guy was probably rolling in saber
tooth tiger jewelry and cave art sponsorship deals. Lucky stiff.
6 Most excellent people, also our systems engineer, deputy project manager and project manager
respectively. I believe I owe them all rocket cakes.
7 I believe we made up 5 of the presentations at that conference. For reference, that’s almost two hours
worth of presentation material. Pretty swanky hey?
8 Like a boss.
9 Everyone laughed at this point. I like to think it was because of our witty banter.