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Press Release

Increasing Canada's International Role in Space Exploration

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 26, 2015) - Today, Industry Minister James Moore and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Jeremy Hansen joined students at Elgin Street Public School to talk about Canada's proud history in space and the future of space exploration.

Minister Moore announced that the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is investing an additional $2.6 million towards Canada's contribution in the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful telescope ever built.

This next-generation space telescope will observe the most distant objects in the universe, study planets around distant stars and provide images of the first galaxies ever formed. The observatory's images will serve thousands of astronomers worldwide, including Canadians, over the coming decades, including helping them to determine if there are other planets capable of supporting life.

The investment will help integrate Canadian instruments into the telescope and directly support all test activities with the instruments in preparation for the telescope's launch in October 2018.

Canada's contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope is aligned with the principles of Canada's Space Policy Framework: it positions our domestic space industry at the forefront of cutting-edge space activities; it strengthens strategic relationships with international partners in the interest of science and technology; and it advances Canada's excellence in the key capability of space optics.

Quick facts

  • The James Webb Space Telescope is a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency and the CSA.
  • The Government of Canada's investment in the Canadian science and technology for the telescope is supporting the jobs of 15 highly trained specialists: seven astronomers and eight full-time employees at COM DEV.
  • Canada is contributing the Webb's Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) science instruments. This contribution guarantees Canadian astronomers a share of observing time on the telescope.
  • The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is adding $2.6 million to its contract with COM DEV International Ltd. to assist with the integration of FGS and NIRISS to the Webb telescope.
  • Both instruments were designed, built and tested by COM DEV International Ltd. in Ottawa and Cambridge, Ontario, with technical contributions from the Université de Montréal, the National Research Council of Canada and the CSA's project team.


"Canada is world renowned for our contributions to space innovation and exploration. Today's announcement to increase Canada's role in the James Webb Telescope will position Canada for continued success in space exploration. Data from the telescope will help astronomers from around the world, including leading Canadian scientists, make discoveries beyond our imagination."

James Moore, Industry Minister

"After well over a decade of working on the James Webb Space Telescope, in close collaboration with the CSA and the science team, our team is very excited to see it through these final stages of integration. This has been the single largest program in COM DEV's history, and we have been proud to contribute to an observatory that will enable such important advances in our understanding of the universe."

Mike Pley, CEO of COM DEV

"The James Webb Space Telescope is arguably the most complex machine currently under construction by humanity. The Canadian instrument onboard Webb represents Canadians' know-how at its best with COM DEV as the industrial pillar of this exciting project. COM DEV's expertise and devotion to this project is inspiring."

Professor René Doyon, principal investigator for the FGS-NIRISS science team

"Canada's contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope builds on our long history of innovative contribution to the international space community and to human exploration of space. We are proud of the Canadian expertise that has gone into this project, which will significantly enhance our understanding of the universe. We congratulate COM DEV and the science team on today's announcement, and thank the government for their support."

Jim Quick, President and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

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