6. Canada

Canada counts among the most experienced space nations with its first satellite launched in 1962, and continues to demonstrate excellence in several space domains, including earth observation, space robotics and satellite communications. The country has sent nine astronauts to space under US programmes, with a tenth astronaut participating in Artemis 2, scheduled for 2024, the first crewed mission to the Moon since 1972. Canada is a trusted partner in international space exploration programmes with participations in the International Space Station and the US-led Lunar Gateway program.

In 2022, Canada’s institutional space budget amounted to USD 298 (CAD 388 million), representing 0.014% of Canada’s gross domestic product. The budget has experienced a 3.2% yearly average decrease since 2015 in real terms (Figure 6.1). Key priorities include space exploration through the Lunar Programme, e.g. with the development of the robotic Canadarm3 to the US Lunar Gateway space station; adapting to climate change with space-based data; and leveraging deep-space health and food innovations to deliver benefits on Earth.

According to Canada’s space industry survey, the space sector generated USD 3.9 billion (CAD 4.9 billion) in revenues in 2021, which is a decline compared with pre-COVID-19 levels and linked to reduced export activity. Satellite communications represented 79% of revenues. The Canadian space sector employed 11 600 full-time equivalents in 2021, mainly in the regions of Quebec and Ontario. Canadian space operator Telesat is developing a constellation in the low-earth orbit for satellite broadband and has received CAD 1.4 billion in support by the Canadian government, partly as a loan and partly as an equity share investment, to provide satellite broadband to remote parts of Canada. Canada’s first commercial spaceport is also under development on the eastern coast, in Nova Scotia, with the first launch planned in 2024.

Canada’s share of space-related patent applications worldwide reached 1.5% in the 2016-20 period, which is a decline compared with 2006-10, as shown in Figure 6.2. A majority of applications (76%) were filed by private firms in 2016-20. “Other applicants” refer to higher education institutions and individuals.

Based on data in the OECD Development Assistance Committee Creditor Reporting System database, Canada committed some 14 million constant US dollars in space-related official development assistance over the 2002-21 period, (Figure 6.3). Commitments mainly focused on the use of space technologies for multi-sector aid and disaster risk reduction (“other multisector”); environmental policy and management (“general environment protection”); and to preserve agricultural land and water resources and support food crop production (“agriculture, forestry, fishing”).

In terms of scientific output and excellence (Table 6.2), OECD indicators for scientific production, international co-authorships and citations in space-related scientific journal categories (aerospace engineering; astronomy; atmospheric science; and space and planetary science), show that authors at Canada-affiliated institutions performed above OECD average in 2021 for aerospace engineering, and slightly below average for the other space-related journal categories.


Canadian Space Agency (2023), 2021 and 2022 State of the Canadian Space Sector, https://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/publications/2021-2022-state-canadian-space-sector-facts-figures-2020-2021.asp#results.

Government of Canada (2021), “Government of Canada announces $1.44-billion investment in Telesat supporting the future of connectivity for rural and remote communities”, 12 August news release, https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2021/08/government-of-canada-announces-144-billion-investment-in-telesat-supporting-the-future-of-connectivity-for-rural-and-remote-communities.html.

OECD, STI Micro-data Lab: Intellectual Property Database, http://oe.cd/ipstats, June 2023.

OECD (2023), “Creditor Reporting System (CRS)", OECD.stat (database), https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=CRS1 (accessed on 24 April 2023).

Scopus Custom Data, Elsevier, Version 1.2023.

Union of Concerned Scientists (2023), UCS Satellite Database, 1 January 2023 version, data extracted 27 July 2023, https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/satellite-database.

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