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.