Official iron-on patch for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)—Agence spatiale canadienne (ASC) in French.
The origins of the Canadian upper atmosphere and space program can be traced back to the end of the Second World War. Between 1945 and 1960, Canada undertook a number of small launcher and satellite projects under the aegis of defense research, including the development of the Black Brant rocket as well as series of advanced studies examining both orbital rendezvous and re-entry. In 1957, scientists and engineers at the Canadian Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) under the leadership of John H. Chapman embarked on a project initially known simply as S-27 or the Topside Sounder Project. This work would soon lead to the development of Canada's first satellite known as Alouette 1.
With the launch of Alouette 1 in September 1962, Canada became the third country to put an artificial satellite into space. At the time, Canada only possessed upper atmospheric launch capabilities ( sounding rockets ), therefore, Alouette 1 was sent aloft by the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. The technical excellence of the satellite, which lasted for ten years instead of the expected one, prompted the further study of the ionosphere with the joint Canadian-designed, U.S.-launched ISIS satellite program. This undertaking was designated an International Milestone of Electrical Engineering by IEEE in 1993. The launch of Anik A-1 in 1972 made Canada the first country in the world to establish its own domestic geostationary communication satellite network.
These and other space-related activities in the 1980s compelled the Canadian government to promulgate the Canadian Space Agency Act, which established the Canadian Space Agency. The Act received royal assent on May 10, 1990, and came into force on December 14, 1990.
The mandate of the Canadian Space Agency is to promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians. The Canadian Space Agency's mission statement says that the agency is committed to leading the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.
In 1999 the CSA was moved from project-based to "A-base" funding and given a fixed annual budget of $300 million. The actual budget varies from year to year due to additional earmarks and special projects.