Some big things are happening in a small basement lab at York University’s Petrie Science and Engineering building.
Behind the sealed doors of a clean testing room, accessible only if you’re outfitted in a labcoat and hairnet, a huge steel tank snores away like an old man enjoying an afternoon nap in a La-Z-Boy recliner. The vessel is actually a thermal vacuum unit, but it looks more like a modernized iron lung. The instruments inside this super high-tech exploration equipment validation system will likely end up in space.
This is where Brendan (Ben) Quine and Caroline Roberts are working, alongside a team of graduate students and other researchers, to propel Canada’s contributions to space exploration into the future, and where their company, Thoth Technology, calls home.
Thoth, named after the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom (credited with introducing the Egyptians to mathematics, geometry, astronomy, land surveying, medicine, botany, reading, writing and oratory), is an OEM supplier of miniaturized payloads for space and UAV platforms. It develops award-winning infrared spectrometers and linescan cameras for CubeSat (minituarized satellite) missions, manufactured in Pembroke and Cookstown, Ont., with space flight validation performed at the York homebase.
But the company is best known of late for its space elevator, which would climb 20 kilometres into the atmosphere, and according to Quine, change the future of space flight and exploration forever, rendering all current rocket systems obsolete.
The name of Thoth’s game is developing disruptive and transformative technologies that, as Quine puts it, “make a significant difference.”
Founded in 2001 by the husband and wife team, Thoth is the product of some big thinking and