Canso space port gets first customer, government support
AARON BESWICK SALTWIRE NETWORK email@example.com @chronicleherald
A plan to build Canada’s first commercial spaceport outside of Canso, Guysborough County got widespread federal, provincial and First Nation support during an event at the Halifax International Security Forum on Friday. Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Space Agency president Lisa Campbell, and provincial Economic Development Minister Susan CorkumGreek all praised the opportunities that would come with Spaceport Nova Scotia but made no commitments of government money. “This marks a new chapter in the space industry of Canada,” said Champagne. “We want to be your partner. I could not be more pleased to stand with you today and send you a signal that Canada intends to play its role in the space industry,” he said. The endorsements were welcomed by Maritime Launch Services president, Steve Matier, who has set an ambitious goal of completing the remaining environmental assessment documents for, raising some $200 million in capital, completing design and building a rocket launch facility outside Canso and sending a first rocket aloft by the end of 2023. Representatives of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough and Paq’tnkek First Nation were also in attendance, showing support for the project. Matier unveiled a design for the planned launch control centre and announced a paying customer for the first rocket launch. Nanoracks, an American company that deploys small satellites from the International Space Station along with provision of other services, intends to attach a technology to the upper stage of the first rocket, which will allow it to take control after its primary mission of releasing satellites is complete. “In the future we see this as a way to have inexpensive warehouses or factories in space rather than discard (used parts of rockets) or let it become space junk,” said Jeffrey Manber, who cofounded the private space company in 2009. “It allows us to control the upper stage and provide power. Maybe we will have some CubeSats on that upper stage and instead of deploying on launch day we can deploy for customers on demand, maybe two or three months later, which can be important for the commercial satellite industry.” The inclusion of the technology will primarily be a technological demonstration for the growing launch industry which is currently worth about $400 billion annually. Manber said that a backlog of smaller satellites is expected to grow behind a launch industry that is struggling to keep up with demand, making room for the capacity proposed by MLS. “What it means is revenue,” said Matier. “Eighteen months before launch you’ve got payments being made to that launch, manufacturing and preparation for that launch that will continue on till launch day.” Also on hand were representatives from the government of Ukraine and the companies Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash which design and build the medium-lift Cyclone 4M rocket Maritime Launch Services intends to use. “We would love to get some of the roadwork started over the winter months but major construction we anticipate beginning in the spring,” said Matier. “We have design firms working on detailed designs geotechnical studies to help for building footings, we’ve got a full preconstruction activity under way. All that has to be done, and we will be tending bidders to prepare proposals to do the construction activities.” One person hoping MLS hits its timelines is Arad Gharagozli. The founder of Halifax based Galaxia Missions Systems and the Dal Space Lab is currently building a suite of maritime surveillance and recognizance satellites. Galaxia has signed a letter of intent to have two of its nano-satellites on MLS’ first launch, another eight on a launch six months later, and then 16 more in the following years. “We’re very excited as an integrator and satellite operator,” said Gharagozli. “Currently if we want to launch we have to go through the United States or E.U. countries, which adds a lot of overhead costs. In those countries you often also have to wait in line. Canada doesn’t currently have a commercial spaceport so having a potential opportunity only two hours away from our head office is huge. “It would also create the ecosystem we need to bring more space companies into this area, create lot of jobs and retain people,” he said.