Spaceport’s Focus Report to be submitted late March

Groundbreaking could take place in July

By Helen Murphy    

CANSO – Maritime Launch Services (MLS) CEO Steve Matier is sounding optimistic these days, after a setback last year when the company was required to submit a more detailed Focus Report in its pursuit of environmental approval for a spaceport to launch commercial satellites near Canso. During an interview Tuesday, he told The Journal the company plans to file its Focus Report with the Dept. of Environment in late March.

That could put MLS on track for a groundbreaking at the site as early as July. After the Focus Report is submitted, the Dept. of Environment has 14 days to publish a public notice. Once it does, a 30-day period for public comments will commence. The department then has 25 days to review comments and make a recommendation to the minister.

“We don’t assume anything about approval from the Minister of Environment,” said Matier, “but we are hopeful for approval from the Minister of Environment. We are working to give her all the answers she needs so she can approve this to go forward.”

If timing allows for groundbreaking in July, it would be largely ceremonial, he said. “There is a nesting season that has to finish through August before we can start cutting roads. So we are looking at starting with roads in September.”

MLS plans to hold an open house in Canso mid-March to bring the community up-to-date on the project.

“We want to go back and touch base with the community and let them know how things are going,” he said.

Matier has also been invited to address business students at StFX about the project and the potential for the space industry in Canada. That visit will be scheduled for the same day as the open house and will be open to the public.

In recent months the company has also been meeting with Mi’kmaq leaders and securing additional satellite-launch clients.

“Things are really starting to gel it seems and I’m pretty happy.”

MLS received the terms of reference for its focus report last Sept. and spent the next two months reviewing it and “pulling things together for it,” said Matier. “We’ve been meeting with some of the regulators to clarify questions and give them an idea of what we’re going to be presenting, to get their feedback.”

The company gave MODG a project update two weeks ago and met with the project’s community liaison committee.

Matier noted that AJ’s Pub in Canso now offers a Cyclone 4M pizza, named after the Cyclone-4M rockets to be used at the spaceport — but in this case 4M means four meats.

“It’s really good,” said Matier.

The Cyclone-4M is a Ukrainian rocket designed for commercial satellite launches.