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Going to space

Did you know Norway and Canada collaborate on space education and research? The project is an excellent example of a well-developed partnership, and they are even increasing their ambitions.

Author: Heidi Skålevik.

Published: 25.10.2017


From the left: Professor Jøran Moen – University of Oslo, Mr. Artur Wilczynsk – Canada’s Ambassador to Norway, and Kolbjørn Blix – Director Space Systems at Andøya Space Center. Photo: NAROM.

The project works with student mobility and joint activities in space education and research. SIU has funded the collaboration since 2009.

The scope and importance of Norwegian space research and industry is unknown to many.

Joint Mission-based Space Master’s degree

In the past years there has been a paradigm shift in electronics and the scope of what we can use satellites for. However, there has been little change in how data from the satellites is applied in research.

The University of Oslo and the University of Calgary are planning to develop an international joint mission-based Space Master’s degree. The partners are committed to ten years of collaboration, and at its core is the launch of a satellite every second year.

– For every launch of a satellite, there is a scientific challenge to be met. The advantage of collaboration is the innovative force that arises when bringing together students, researches and business to find solutions to societal challenges, says Professor Jøran Moen, the Norwegian project coordinator.

By developing joint courses for the mission-based Master’s program, Norwegian and Canadian students will have the opportunity to solve practical issues through their education. They will have unparalleled study opportunities, and at the same time the universities will recruit excellent students.

Space is attractive 

At the core of the collaboration, is the “Canada-Norway Sounding Rocket student and exchange program” (CaNoRock). Through a one-week intensive course at Andøya Space Center, the students have the opportunity to design, construct and launch sounding rockets.

The program is very popular, with close to 300 student participants since 2009.

– No wonder researchers are excited about this! This project represents a university’s mission exactly: Students are the most important product of the collaboration, says Professor Jøran Moen.

CaNoRock_Synne Lysberg_edit web

Norwegian and Canadian “CaNoRock” students visited Andøya Space Center in October to prepare the 14th student sounding rocket for launch. Photo: Synne Lysberg.

Ace of Space

The project’s greatest asset is their technical, scientific and professional expertise. For students this leads to strong commitment, the opportunity to work in an international team and real project experience.

It will also have an impact on research and business. Their goal for research collaboration is to build a critical mass for excellence and strengthen their international lead in selected areas of space R&D. They will also prepare the next generation of space researchers, which can push the paradigm shift in space R&D.

Professor Jøran Moen is convinced that the space industry labor market will benefit greatly from the collaboration. – We are preparing the next generation of employees within academia, space industry, space agencies and international companies, he says.

This is supported by the Canadian Space Agency, who is funding Canadian activities with one million Canadian Dollars over the next five years.

– We need to train our future researchers to build the satellites for the future, says Martin Hebert, Director of development of Space Science and Technology at the Canadian Space Agency.

About the Project

The collaboration started as a pilot for student exchange is the two-year project “CaNo Space Student Exchange program”. Initial partners were the University of Oslo, University of Calgary, University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan.

The project was a success, and given further funding through SIU’s Partnership Program for North America in 2012 and 2016.

Plans for further collaboration include University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, University of Oslo, University of Bergen, University of Tromsø - the Arctic University of Norway (UiT), The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Eidsvoll Electronics (EIDEL), Andøya Space Centre (ASC) and Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education (NAROM).

UNIS, NTNU and EIDEL are new partners in the CaNoRock/CaNoSat Collaboration.