Praise Canada (For Once)

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If you ask Canadians to name a national achievement that's not related to hockey or pop music, most can't. But those who can consistently point to the Canadarm, the mechanical arm on the International Space Station.

Looks like that roaring success has encouraged Canada to think big–and for once, we're not talking big government. Nova Scotia has signed an agreement to hand over 300 acres for the building of a private spaceport, with the first launch anticipated by 2010, reports the Toronto Star.

Canadian business development executive Mark James said of the decision:

"Space has always been handled by government and by military, and there's countless examples around the world where lack of competition stifles moving forward. With the mantle being passed off to the private sector, I think a number of companies are going to be hugely successful. And we want to work with one of the winners."

Apparently, Canada's northern latitude is actually an advantage. Cape Breton, where the spaceport will be built, is sits on the same parallel with the Russian launch facility, which means it will take less fuel for the Canucks to get up to the International Space Station to visit their beloved Canadarm.

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  1. I assume your reference to Canadians’ lack of national pride was meant in jest, but since we’re talking stereotypes, your arrogant ignorance is deliciously American. Could you supersize that, please? We just love eating your shit.

  2. I live less than five miles away from the JSC. It’s practically heresy to say anything negative about NASA around here, but damnit, I’m ready for a change.

    Oh, and don’t forget Canada’s generous contributions to the world of comedy.

  3. What exactly about that post was arrogant and ignorant?

  4. Being thinskinned is an important part of the Canadian national character. They make up for it by being insufferably smarmy and smug.

    Thanksgiving Day is the day Americans thank God they’re Americans and Canadians thank God they’re not.

  5. Superior beer.
    That’s reason enough to let them live.
    Oh, and that potato and gravy dish is good too.

  6. I assume your reference to Canadians’ lack of national pride was meant in jest, but since we’re talking stereotypes, your arrogant ignorance is deliciously American. Could you supersize that, please? We just love eating your shit.

    If y’all don’t like it, move more than 1% of your population more than 100 miles from your border with the land of ignorance and arrogance. 🙂

  7. “Wheat Kings” by the Tragically Hip.

    Excellent song.

  8. Does lacrosse count? Cause lacrosse rules.

    And Rush is something libertarians and canadians can snuggle up to.

    My canuckas.

  9. I was taught that equatorial launch sites were better because of the centripedal force was greater there reducing the energy needed to reach escape velocity.

  10. NoMeansNo and Propagandi, as long as we’re name-dropping bands.

    Who doesn’t think private space travel is a good thing? It’s just like the military: it used to be that governments had a monopoly on armies and munitions, and now just about anybody with an axe to grind can purchase missiles, etc. Our armies have also started outsourcing our military dirty work to private firms (Blackwater, etc.).

  11. Don’t mind Lorraine Carpenter, as was said above, Canadians are the most thin-skinned creatures to roam the world. The truth is that Canadians, truly, do not have a national identity?aside from being “not American”. A day in the life of my fellow Canadians revolves around complaining about America, Americans, and American beer.

    As per the mention of The Tragically Hip, I?m dumbfounded. The Hip, as they are known colloquially, are a another blight upon Canada. They are a glorified bar band that Canadians have embraced as part of the national culture?of course they ignore the fact they are pathetic and unoriginal.

    So (also my fellow) Americans, continue to do what you have always done with Canada?ignore it.

  12. Isn’t lacrosse actually a Native American sport?

    Rush is cool. As is Triumph. I love three-man Canadian bands. Oh, and when Geddy was singing “Take Off to the Great White North”, it sounded like angels, eh? Canada is just fine with me, in any case.

    What about equatorial launches being the way to go? Is this strictly because of the weird orbit of the ISS? Speaking of that and my previous paragraph, would “Take Off” be the official song of a Canadian launch site?

  13. To be fair, in my experience the smugly America-hating Canadians aren’t any more prevalent than the most jingoistic Americans. The rest have a sense of humor.

  14. Speaking of that and my previous paragraph, would “Take Off” be the official song of a Canadian launch site?

    Oh, and when Geddy was singing “Take Off to the Great White North”, it sounded like angels, eh?

    Me and my brother Bob thought this can’t be a coincidence, PL. So, Take Off to the Great White North, eh?

    Hoser.

  15. That would be “Take Off from the Great White North”, now. Using the Hoser launch system, natch.

    After all, it is the beauty way to go.

  16. FUCKING SERVER SQUIRRELS
    post attempt #347

    “Launching from that latitude in the Americas saves you fuel, believe it or not, over Kennedy.”

    WTF?
    I find that very hard to believe? The best place to launch is on the equator, where the earth’s rotation can be used to best advantage. That’s why we launch from Florida and not Maine. And why the Europeans ship their fragile space-cargo half way around the world to launch from South America and not Bordeaux country. Can anybody make sense of this assertion?

  17. Positives
    D.O.A.
    Neil Young
    SCTV (and everything associated with Second City Toronto)
    NoMeansNo
    The Band
    The Guess Who
    kd lang
    Cowboy Junkies
    Leonard Cohen
    Bruce Cockburn
    The New Pornographers
    Samantha Bee
    Tommy Chong
    Norm MacDonald

    Negatives
    “aboot” in place of “about”
    William Shatner
    Rush
    Barenaked Ladies
    Crash Test Dummies
    Celine Dion
    Lorne Michaels
    The name “Lorne”

    Alright, Canada. You should be proud. Your positive contributions to American culture far outweigh the negative.

  18. All canada/ami bashing aside, this is great news.

    It was nationalistic competition that got us to the moon and beyond, so the more nations that want to compete in the new 21st century Space Race the better for all !

    So far I count India, China, the EU (Germany?, France?), America and now Canada.

    Huzzah to All !!

  19. Hey, I like Rush. And Shatner, pre-T.J. Hooker.

  20. Hey, I like Rush. And Shatner, pre-T.J. Hooker.

  21. All Canada/Ami bashing aside, this is great news–Jingoistic competition was the main reason we got to the moon and beyond so quickly. The more nations that want to compete in our new 21st Century Space race, the better.

    So a big Shoutout to the nations that have thrown their hat into the ring so far:

    India !

    The EU!

    Communist China!

    Brazil (I think . . .)

    America!

    and now Canada!!

    Huzzah to All!

  22. I like Shatner pre-Star Trek, and I kind of like him post-priceline, but for his Star Trek, TJ Hooker, and Tek War crap, the man should go to Gitmo.

    Ms Picklehead is right – private enterprise going into space is a good thing.

  23. Re:Canada,
    Canada is the USA’s younger brother. Constantly annoyed at being compared to us, and found wanting. They desperately want to distinguish themselves from us, even as they try with all their might to be exactly like us.

    highnumber,
    You got to be kidding. While the half of the positive list I recognize is, er positive, nothing on there is especially praise worthy (except Neil, he rocks). OTOH almost the entire “negative” list are cultural icons that changed civilization for the better.

  24. oops, thought the first one went to /dev/null or something

  25. Speaking of that and my previous paragraph, would “Take Off” be the official song of a Canadian launch site?

    If I had my way it would be the Canadian national anthem. One thing Americans have over Canadians, it’s the national anthem. The thing I always liked about the “Star-Spangled Banner” was its range, which spans the interval of a twelfth. Most people can only comfortably sing within an octave, so when you get to the part about the rocket’s red glare, you have to go for it and actually perform your patriotic fervor by belting it so you can shove your voice up a few extra notches by main force, or else be nastily out-of-tune, or maybe both. What I like about the American national anthem is that loud nasty out-of-tune bawling can count as a good performance, from a certain point of view. From an American point of view!

    As everyone knows, America’s national anthem was originally a drinking song, which might explain its excessive range. This is somehow very American. Canada’s national anthem is a paraphrase of the “March of the Priests” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. This is somehow very Canadian. So are its modest vocal demands, circular repetitions, and vague promises to “stand on guard.”

    Other things about Canada that are awesome:

    Leslie Nielson
    Glenn Gould
    Stompin’ Tom Connors
    David Cronenberg
    Marshall McLuhan
    My home town, Sudbury Ontario

  26. Warren, Pro Lib, and all you other Rush fans,

    Rush really really really really really sucks.
    It is good that they introduce nerdy young men to libertarianism, but their music makes me want to pour cement in my ears and their fans are the objectivists of the rock & roll world. The same earnest “I just don’t understand how you don’t like Rush/Ayn Rand. Let me explain to you why Rush /Ayn Rand is so great and why you should like them…(proselytize ad nauseum)”

    [and private to Warren,
    What is wrong with you? For your own safety’s sake, you can’t go around in public proclaiming Celine Dion and the name “Lorne” are cultural icons that changed civilization for the better. ;)]

  27. So, R.S. Porter, are you really in the Queen City of the Plains?

    If so, how are things on the banks of Wascana Creek?

  28. For your own safety’s sake, you can’t go around in public proclaiming Celine Dion and the name “Lorne” are cultural icons that changed civilization for the better.

    OK you’ve got a point there. But your anti-Rush zealotry is just crazy talk. Seriously, you should get some help.

  29. Rush is a great band. And while Celine Dion is indeed a musical abortion, I can’t see how she’s any worse than America’s own Barbara Streisand.

  30. Lamar,
    I didn’t know Propagandi were Canadian. Seems like they’re allways ranting about American politics. so when they say “shove that flag up your fucking ass” are they talking about the Canadian flag?

  31. Lamar,
    I didn’t know Propagandi were Canadian. Seems like they’re allways ranting about American politics. so when they say “shove that flag up your fucking ass” are they talking about the Canadian flag?

  32. Actually written in my Canadian high-school yearbook:
    “It sucks that you’re going to be an American, but at least you can buy guns and the beer is cheaper.”

    For all the gushing Canadians do about beer, I’m shocked –SHOCKED– when I go back up there and they are drinking Coors Light or Bud… makes me feel like I slipped through a portal into another dimension.

  33. I have one more big negative for Canadian culture:

    As It Happens, that damn smarmy CBC radio show that they syndicate to US public radio. My biggest peeve is that they begin every phone interview with a pointless “Hello, Mr/Mrs (blank), how are you today?” Cut that part out of the interview already! Don’t tell me that it’s just Canadian politeness, because I know that they tape the interview. I understand that there was some small talk made to set up the interviewee. I don’t need to hear it.

    One more thing:

    Rush is a great band.

    Right. I have come around. Rush is great. Geddy Lee’s voice does not sound like a thousand baby seals dying. They are not pretentious. Their songs aren’t melody-free zones as big as the Northwest Territories. They don’t have enough drum solos for my taste, but what’s a guy gonna do?

  34. Admit it highnumber, you rode the short bus to school didn’t you.

  35. A space port in Cape Breton Nova Scotia! Gimme a break. Ever hear of North Atlantic weather? Fog, rain, wind, ice, snow? How come every time there is a breeze or a moderate overcast at Canaveral a launch or a landing is postponed or delayed? Whaddya think is gonna happen in Cape Breton?

    (Quiz: Guess why it is called “Cape” Breton? Give up? Because it is an Island! Though just barely, and it is joined to the rest of Nova Scotia by a bridge.)

    I just spent 4 years living in New Mexico and it is no surprise to me why there is a space facility there… the weather is practically the SAME EVERY DAY! If the sun ain’t shining in NM it is night time! (There may be other probs with NM, but consistent weather ain’t one of them.)

    The latitude coincidence with the Russian site is just that, a coincidence. The Baikonur Cosmodrome site enjoys (?) continental (consistent) weather patterns, not coastal (changing) weather patterns.

    My (admittedly erratic and ocassionally paranoid) thought processes contemplated the possibility that this could be related tos something else, something along these lines.. since the Federal Liberal government established the Canadian Fireams Center in New Brunswick (next door to Nova Scotia) and it is languishing under the new Conservative government’s intention to dismember Canada’s Firearms Registry (yay), the Maritime locals are contemplating ways to find employment for the soon to be (hopefully) unemployed CFC bureaucrats. (Could happen..)

    One thing you can be sure of, if there is any kind of new and largish ‘enterprise’ happening, especially in one of the Maritime provinces of the East Coast, there is government participation somewhere. (FYI The Canadarm was originally funded by the National Research Council – a federal agency)

    The article says ” Nova Scotia has signed a “team agreement” to provide 300 acres of land – and perhaps even some funding”. If I was a betting man, I’d bet on government funding, if not now, soon!

    As for a national achievement not related to hockey or entertainment how about: 1) The Mounties 2) the Canadian 3rd Division on D-day June 1944 being the only Allied force to reach all their objectives, and 3) creating a rather bland and neutral red and white maple leaf flag which globe trotting young Americans can sew on their backpacks and ball caps when wandering around the world so they can avoid being taken for actual Americans?

  36. By the way, Canada also gave Trailer Park Boys to the world.

  37. The equator IS the best place to launch if you want an equatorial (or nearly equatorial) orbit. The ISS orbits on a plane inclined 51 degrees from the equatorial plane. The due-East 1000 MPH boost from launching at the equator is moot because you then have to spend a lot of energy to get into this inclined orbit. For more than you probably want to know about the ISS orbit, go here (it has pictures):

    http://www.heavens-above.com/orbitdisplay.asp?satid=25544

  38. What is this ‘Canada’ place of which everyone speaks?

  39. My husband was an exchange student in Nova Scotia, and when I told him about this, he doubled over with laughter. Seems that residents of Cape Breton — known as “Capers,” like the condiments — are considered the rednecks of the Maritimes. The idea of Caper rocket scientists is a complete oxymoron, emphasis on the second and third syllables. Now, I’ve been to Cape Breton and loved it, so I don’t endorse his opinion.

  40. Also, while I’m at it, let me add to the list of Canadian positives the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. We were there just last week, visiting the family with whom Steve lived in Nova Scotia. The BC coast has sunshine almost all summer, and warm, but never hot, weather. The prices are quite reasonable, too, and the food is amazing. The water is too cold for this Texan to swim in it, but if you have a boat it’s brilliant.

    As for performers, eastern Canada’s greatest musical export was the late Stan Rogers, although Stompin Tom is awfully good.

  41. “Launching from that latitude in the Americas saves you fuel, believe it or not, over Kennedy.”

    Can anybody make sense of this assertion?

    If they are in the same latitude as the station, they get to use all the centrifugal force that their latitude has by launching due east. Launch to ISS from Kennedy, on the other hand, must be northeast or southeast in order to reach that inclination. That takes away the advantages of the latitude’s greater rotational velocity.

    As for why Kennedy would be worse, I am not a rocket scientist, but here’s my take…

    From the lower latitude, you get greater help from earth’s rotational velocity. But that is countered by the fact that you need to launch in an azimuth not directly along that rotational velocity. The rotational contributions in these two cases would be exactly equal but for one thing: from the lower latitude you actually need to launch in an azimuth even further from due east to generate the effective azimuth from launch plus rotation that is required to meet the inclination. So the contribution from rotation turns out to be less than that of launching from a higher latitude but more easterly direction.

    As the limiting case of this effect, note that launching from the equator to polar orbit is far more expensive than lauching to polar orbit from the pole. Equatorial launch actually needs to be somewhat backwards in order to eliminate the earth’s rotational velocity.

  42. The best place to launch is on the equator, where the earth’s rotation can be used to best advantage.

    Well, yes, as Kevin has pointed out, if you are interested in just getting a given payload into orbit, the lowest velocity gain (and hence fuel) is required for a due east launch at the equator which leads to a zero degree inclination orbit. This is because the velocity of the earth’s rotation is, of course, greatest at the equator. It is about 465 m/s (or 1040 mph) to the east (which is greater than the speed of sound).

    However, if you launch into a higher inclination orbit (such as the 51.63 degree International Space Station orbit) then the velocity that counts is only the component in the orbital plane which is given by 465 m/s*cos (51.63) = 289 m/s (646 mph). So while this velocity is considerably less than if the orbit were at zero degrees inclination, it is still significant.

    Now, what about the latitude of a launch site not at the equator? Another way to get into a 51.63 degree inclination orbit is to launch due east (90 degrees azimuth) from a launch site at 51.63 degrees of latitude. To a good first-order approximation (assuming spherical earth, etc) the velocity “boost” then is given by 465 m/s * cos 51.63 ( launch latitude) = 289 m/s. Obviously this is exactly the same as the launch at the equator. What about for a launch at the 46 degree latitude of Cape Breton? Well now it is a little more complicated because we need to figure out the launch azimuth from Cape Breton which will result in the properly inclined 51.63 degree orbit. This is given by asin(cos i / cos l) where i is the desired inclination of the orbit and l is the latitude of the launch site. In this case that is asin (cos 51.63 / cos 46) = 63.33 degrees (azimuth). Therefore the total velocity “boost” is given by cos(latitude)*sin(azimuth)*465m/s = 289 m/s(!). So once again, it doesn’t matter. This same calculation can be done for any launch latitude between zero and 51.63 and will give the same result (try a launch latitude greater than 51.63 and the result is complex which hints at the real problem with high-latitude launch sites). The velocity available to take advantage of is the same regardless of launch latitude for a given inclination… almost.

    As mentioned, there is a problem with high-latitude launch sites hinted at by the non-physical azimuth results from trying to launch into an orbit of lower inclination than the launch latitude: The inclination of the orbit for any launch is limited to being greater than or equal to the latitude of the launch site. So, for example, any launch from Cape Breton will result in an orbit of at least 46 degrees inclination. We’ve already seen that the most efficient launch, in general, is a 0 degree inclination launched from the equator – but that inclination can only be launched from the equator. And while any other inclination launched from the equator “costs” you some velocity at the equator, not coincidentally, that cost is exactly the same as the cost incurred from launching to the same inclination at higher latitudes. Thus the problem with launching from Cape Breton isn’t the velocity available for high-inclination (e.g. ISS) launches, it’s that not everything requires a high-inclination orbit and using one when it isn’t required is costly. Since generally a low-inclination orbit is more efficient, having a launch site that cannot launch low-inclination orbits seems dubious.

  43. If they are in the same latitude as the station, they get to use all the centrifugal force that their latitude has by launching due east.

    Not centrifugal (or centripetal, as someone else mentioned) force, but velocity. Velocity is the only thing that matters; the centrifugal force due to the earth’s rotation is vanishingly negligible even at the equator.

    Anyway, yes, they get to use all the velocity available with a due east launch at high-latitude but that velocity is less by exactly the same amount as is lost by having to launch at a higher azimuth at lower latitudes.

  44. that velocity is less by exactly the same amount as is lost by having to launch at a higher azimuth at lower latitudes.

    Which exactly proves the point that Warren so willfully ignores…

    which is Rush sucks!

    Sorry. I had to get one more in before bed.

  45. Re: Canadian Beers

    Unibroue: best beers ever
    Labatt & Molson: garbage

  46. I just got back from a vacation to BC, and the best thing about Canada for me, was that I was able to just walk right in to that Parliament building in Victoria. I mean, I just walked right in. Nobody wanted to rummage my handbag, I didn’t have to go through a metal detector, there weren’t guys with machine guns standing around….I was enthralled.

    And BC was also very nice. Damn, those “highways” are more like “country roads”, though. I also didn’t see many Canadians; the place was absolutely infested with American senior citizens.

  47. Brian Courts,
    Thanks. I see where it’s going, but I’m still missing something. When I run the numbers I find no advantage to high latitude launch. But I do see that the advantage of equatorial launch is nullified by orbital inclination.

  48. Anyway, yes, they get to use all the velocity available with a due east launch at high-latitude but that velocity is less by exactly the same amount as is lost by having to launch at a higher azimuth at lower latitudes.

    I am learning these things on the fly, but I believe that your equation

    asin(cos i / cos l)

    yields the inertial launch azimuth. The actual launch azimuth is — as I discussed above — angled further away from east in order to account for the contribution due to earth’s rotation.

    I can’t find a good equation or derivation for it. The best I could do is on a space flight simulator forum. With x as the inertial launch azimuth and y as the actual launch azimuth

    y = x – 0.06 * cos l * sin x

    My guess is that 0.06 * cos l is the velocity of earth’s surface at latitude l divided by earth orbital velocity. I also assume the angles are in radians.

    Here’s another hint that the equation you cite isn’t the end of the story.

    It appears that the lower the latitude and the greater the inertial launch azimuth, the less one gets from the rotational velocity of the earth… and that the Canadian Warren doubted was right.

    How else would you explain the fact that polar orbital trajectories are in reality launched retrograde while the equation you cite says they should be launched due north?

  49. Not centrifugal (or centripetal, as someone else mentioned) force, but velocity.

    By the way, Brian, thanks for catching that. I was thoughtlessly using centrifugal as interchangable with rotational when as you note they are not.

  50. Sheboygan, WI has been floating a similar plan for months.

    BTW, the greatest musical exports of Maritime Canada are fiddlers, notably Natalie McMaster and her uncle Buddy. Great Big Sea and Ashley MacIsaac rule, too.

    Irish Fest starts tomorrow, where I’ll get to see a recreation of a “Nova Scotia Kitchen Party”, featuring at different times:
    Buddy MacDonald
    Dave MacIsaac
    Beolach
    Mary Jane Lamond
    Dave MacIsaac
    Jerry Holland
    Dave Gunning
    The Cottars
    J P Cormier

    Sl?inte!

    Kevin

  51. Upon further review, it appears the equation I cite above has a sine/cosine error. In order for an inertial launch azimuth of 90 degrees (due east) not to change the actual launch azimuth, the second term needs to be a cosine:

    y = x – 0.06 * cos l * cos x

    Also, as it was written above, simple substitution cancels out everything except the latitude: again clearly wrong. Rather, the contribution of the earth’s rotation to the actual azimuth should be maximized at 0 latitude (the equator) and 0 azimuth (due north).

    Of course, this calls into question any authority that may be claimed from that source. But perhaps he was recalling it from memory and was as confused as I am with the notion of east’s being 0 inclination, but 90 azimuth.

    There’s still the gut check approximation that adds radian angles instead of going through the trigonometry, presumably because the correction term is so definitely small. If I have time, I’m going to try to figure out what that equation really should be.

  52. One important difference between Canadians and Americans is that in Canada they have no real tradition of liberty. In the USA you at least have some serious talk about libertarian ideas. You’ll almost never hear a principled libertarian argument in Canada. 99% sheeple

  53. um, only redeemable thing about canada = montreal and possibly Bret the Hitman Hart

  54. did someone say Capers are the rednecks of the maritimes?

    where does that leave the Newfies?

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