Our next government should increase the budget of the Canadian Space Agency, because investing in space is good for the economy.
The Canadian space sector generates $3.5 billion every year, employing over 8,200 Canadians. Our overall aerospace sector generates $30 billion annually, and employs over 150,000 Canadians. But public investment in the space sector is tiny: the Canadian Space Agency’s $300 million budget, set in 1999, was about 0.1% of the most recent budget. This stagnant funding, falling far behind inflation, is in stark contrast with the local importance and global growth of space: according to the Space Foundation, “the global space economy grew by 4% in 2013, reaching a new record of $314.17 billion.”
The research is unequivocal: investments in space have always been sound. As the physicist Brian Cox explains, the Apollo missions infused $14 into the American economy for every $1 spent. In a more sanguine moment in Canadian Space, one study estimated that the Canadian Space Agency model offered a particularly good economic return, with many projects returning two-, three-, or even ten-fold their cost back into the economy. They estimated that Canadian investment in space exploration typically returned to the Canadian economy at a rate of $4 for every $1 spent. This money returns through high-skill manufacturing jobs, and in the research, development, and implementation of new technologies.
Investing in space also enables cost-saving decisions. Space research is why we understand climate change; tools in space are needed to make accurate predictions about droughts and floods and crop health; satellites are why we have global communications, like GPS, cell phones, modern television, and the internet. Not only do these save money by providing lucrative tools to countless industries, but making good predictions allows us to make smart decisions. Uninformed decisions can cost money and lives.
SEDS Canada has no speculative requests. We aren’t asking policymakers to experiment with unprecedented funding levels. Instead, our next government should account for inflation, and restore the CSA’s purchasing power to its 1999 level. This would help return space exploration and development to a position where it can grow the Canadian economy once more.
Samuel Baltz, firstname.lastname@example.org