AlbertaSat began as a student group in 2010 responding to the call of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge (CSDC) – an innovative new Canada wide competition encouraging university students to cross the boundaries of what is considered a normal education and try their hand at spacecraft design. The first CSDC competition was a marvelous exercise in experimentation and curiosity as the students of AlbertaSat studied the dynamics of orbital control and considered the effects of free molecular friction on a spacecraft in the upper atmosphere.
Around the same time AlbertaSat revitalized its efforts and crafted a dream – a dream of providing an aerospace education to Albertans along with a commercial space industry supporting the continued development of Alberta’s economy. This dream began with a few members and grew to encompass over 40 students from various disciplines and over 10 faculty members at the University of Alberta. Momentum grew, and from the initial dream, the idea and the design of the Experimental Albertan #1 (Ex-Alta 1) Satellite was created.
The Ex-Alta 1 satellite is the first fully Albertan satellite in the history of our province and the first example of the capability of Albertans on the world aerospace stage. Space represents the next stage of human development of which we have barely scratched the surface. This age of space and technology represents economic, philosophical, cultural and intellectual expansion on a global scale. Ex-Alta 1 is the platform that is helping carry Alberta into that age and Ex-Alta 2 is not far behind.
Alberta is transforming at a tremendous rate, in what is one of the province’s most fascinating times in its history. With immigration of 80,000 people per year, a thriving entrepreneurial culture in both Edmonton and Calgary and a variety of industries developing, this is truly an era of change.
While Alberta continues to be a leading provider of natural resources, the rest of the world is slowly catching up to Alberta’s innovations in the agriculture, forestry, and petroleum industries. It is time that the unique perspective provided by space technology became a contributor to the success of Alberta’s economy and the continued development of Alberta’s future.
The aerospace industry serves as one of Alberta’s key areas for diversification. Already, the United States has benefited tremendously from aerospace innovation, with improvements in their knowledge of space enhancing fields as diverse as medical care and transportation. The same can be said for Alberta, where the province currently possesses the talent required to become a Canadian and world-leader in aerospace.
Benefiting the World
Alongside AlbertaSat’s mission to graze the cosmos through its participation in the QB50 Mission, it remains an integral part of a global effort to expand humanity’s reach into the universe. Created in partnership with the European Commission, the project will launch a swarm of 50 cube satellites from a Cyclone 4 rocket in early 2016. Each satellite in the swarm is designed, built, and tested by different universities from around the world and are equipped with 3 common payloads geared towards collecting scientific data about space weather. With space weather’s potential effects occurring on a global scale, this mission truly does benefit the world – and thus humanity – as a whole.