April 12, 1961 marked the beginning of humankind’s next adventure. Starting with Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight into outer space, we are now wrapping up fifty years of accomplishments: from walking on the moon to creating a global network of communication satellites, from completing the International Space Station to saying good-bye to the Space Shuttle, and many other notable achievements. As for the next fifty years, who knows where humankind will end up.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Yuri’s Night, the Canadian Space Society paid homage to this historic occasion by launching a local chapter in Ottawa. Although Ottawa does not have the cache as Baikanour, Houston or even Montreal (home of the Canadian Space Agency), it is still home to many distinguished Canadian Space experts. As such, the Ottawa Chapter was proud to present a distinguished panel of speakers who tackled the Yuri-inspired theme: “The Next 50 Years in Space”.

Before the panel had a chance to tackle questions about the future of Space, guests of the Ottawa Chapter launch were greeted by members of Ottawa’s larger Space community, such as the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Rocketry Club of Ottawa and Shumac (Human Factors, Systems and Software Engineering). On display were familiar sights, such as amateur rockets and telescopes.

The main highlight of the event was the panel discussion with distinguished and local members of Ottawa’s Space community, who included Jack Rigley from Telesat, Dr. Alan Scott from Com Dev, and Dr. Bob Ryerson from Kim Geomatics. In addition, Dr. Cameron Dickinson from MDA, rounded out the panel as the non-Ottawa resident. Under the bright lights of the state of the art auditorium in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, the panellists delved into a lively discussion on launchers, Mars exploration, Space tourism and satellites.

Members of the audience were able to ask questions which ranged from how we can predict and prepare ourselves for solar flares to the intricacies of new propulsion systems. Overall, the panellists challenged each other in a friendly way and questions from the audience highlighted their passion and knowledge of Space issues. Overall, it was a successful night and we all owe it to one Yuri Gagarin and his flight team for getting us started.

The Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Space Society would like to thank Telesat for sponsoring the celebration of Yuri’s Night and the launch of the Ottawa chapter. Also, the Ottawa Chapter would like to thank their gracious hosts, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

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