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Ottawa space lab closes after more than five decades in business

After 52 years, a space technology laboratory in Ottawa is closing its doors at the end of March 2025, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced on Friday.

“The difficult decision to cease DFL operations is based on the strategic review of operations,” the CSA told CTV News in a statement.

The world-class facility is just one out of a few in the world capable of simulating the enormous stress and temperature associated with rocket launch and space flight, according to the CSA.

“This is going backwards, this is taking away at a time when really we should be going forward,” said Tyler Chamberlin, associate professor at the University of Ottawa.

Work on the Canadarm was done there, which is labelled as the country’s most famous technological achievements in the field of robotics. It supported U.S. space shuttle missions for 30 years.

“This was a way we were like in the business we were in the world of space exploration we were there and I’m sure it was inspiring for many young Canadians growing up,” said Chamberlin.

“To see this important facility close down is really a bad omen for the Canadian Space Industry and our ability to compete in it.”

At the same time, industry leaders say it represents a changing landscape as more private companies enter the field.

“One of the first things that every company invests in now when they go to scale is their infrastructure, which means not going to DFL,” said Michael Graham, CEO of Space Simulation Services of Canada.

I don’t know what the decision making process was but I know for sure it wasn’t easy.”

Currently, there are 34 employees working at the facility in which operations are expected to be scaled back over the next several months.

CTV News Ottawa reached out to the union representing the workers but did not hear back before deadline.

The CSA also tells CTV News, “The Canadian Space Agency remains committed to working closely with industry to help unlock the full potential of Canada’s space sector and respond to the realities of the new and growing space market.”

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