MLS on track for first launch 2021

CEO says no major obstacles in approval conditions

By Helen Murphy    

CANSO – Maritime Launch Services CEO Steve Matier says there are no deal breakers in the 14 pages of conditions in the Dept. of Environment’s approval of its Canso Spaceport Project released last week. The only real surprise, he told The Journal during an interview Monday, is the requirement to pay up to $100,000 annually for the province’s environmental monitoring of the project.

“My environmental team has never seen that before,” he said. “It was a surprise, but it seems reasonable to me.” Matier said the provision reflects the fact that this is a new industry for the province and the government wants to cover itself in case monitoring consumes significant resources.

He said if things are going really well down the road, the province may find that provision is no longer necessary. But for the time being, “they don’t know what they don’t know.”

Matier says MLS will likely wait until September to have a “real” groundbreaking, after the birding season is done, instead of a ceremonial groundbreaking in July.

Priorities in the coming weeks are securing the land lease from N.S. Lands and Forestry including surveying approval processes, and final engineering design. Some preparatory work is to begin in Sept., but major construction would begin next spring. The company still hopes to have first launch in late 2021.

In the coming months local residents will see more activity at the site in the Canso/Hazel Hill/Little Dover area, with surveyors, engineers and others on location.

“Some of that work has already been picking up,” said Matier.

Following news of conditional approval of the project on June 4, the Canso Area Development Assoc. expressed congratulations to Matier and his team.

“Much work lies ahead, but together we can achieve the goals of the project and make it an intricate part of our community’s future,” CADA President Harold Roberts said in an email to Matier, shared with The Journal.