Rocket launch open house attracts interest and skepticism

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – More than 140 local residents attended an open house on Jan. 31 to learn about plans to potentially establish a rocket launch facility in the Canso - Hazel Hill area.

Steve Matier of Maritime Launch Services (MLS) said the event at the Canso - Hazel Hill Fire Hall went well, with residents expressing “a high degree of interest, a healthy degree of skepticism and really good questions.”

Matier said the biggest question was “Why Canso?

“Once they understood the geography needed for a rocket launch and a large body of water nearby, it made sense. Then it was more about how we would work with the community and what sorts of opportunity could come from the project,” he told The Journal. “Our team also learned a great deal about the community and their livelihood and where their areas of concern are. All in all, it was a very good beginning and a solid foundation to build on for the future.”

The project involves launching satellites into space. Site construction would include a launch vehicle facility and a launch pad. Together the construction would cost about $100 million. Matier previously told The Journal that construction would take place in the first couple of years after environmental approval.

When not actively launching, 30 to 50 staff would be required, he said. The staff for launches will increase into the hundreds, and would provide a tourism boost to the province.

After the open house, MLS held a series of meetings in Ottawa. “(We’re) branching out to the federal agencies and ministries...All of those meetings were very positive and supportive.”

The next steps are somewhat in the hands of others, he said, in that agencies are evaluating the company’s proposal and their feedback is needed before the company can make a final site selection.

“We hope to make a final selection and announcement within the next 30 to 45 days,” he said.