Canso Spaceport update

Maritime Launch plans to award design contract soon

By Helen Murphy    

CANSO – Maritime Launch Services hopes to select a design team for site layout and construction planning for the Canso Spaceport Project in the next couple of weeks. The company issued a request for proposals for the work in June and is currently reviewing submissions.

The selected contractor will create design plans for roads and buildings at the site, as well as the launch pad itself, CEO Steve Matier told The Journal Tuesday.

“That’s been a big focus for us,” said Matier of MLS’s recent activities.

He also said there is “no small list of things” that the company is working on to satisfy the Dept. of Environment’s conditions for approval of the project.

“We have a team pulled together working on that and to begin feeding information to both Lands and Forestry and Nova Scotia Environment.”

The company is seeking to lease Crown land from the Dept. of Lands and Forests, and each department has its own requirements to be met by MLS.

“We’ll be working on this over the next few months,” he said. “It’s all going well.”

Matier said the company has also spent time working with satellite clients since the announcement of conditional environmental approval for the Canso Spaceport in early June.

“We’ve had a lot of positive response from the satellite community (to that announcement),” said Matier.

“Some companies have reached out to us, others we have reached out to. So we’re starting to fill up orders…The global (satellite) community is seeing what the potential of this project is.”

The CEO said he recently met with representatives of federal regulatory bodies in Ottawa.

“Over the next couple of years, we will make sure they see everything they want to see from a launch preparation perspective,” he said.

Transport Canada is responsible for launch approvals. Other agencies represented at the meeting include Global Affairs Canada and the Dept. of National Defence, he said.

“The final part is working to pull together all the investment framework,” for the project, he said. While Matier said he can’t yet share those financial details, he hopes to make an announcement about this aspect in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, MLS’s partners in the Ukraine continue work on the rocket to be used at the site.

“My colleagues in Ukraine are still working on the launch vehicle,” he said. “That’s all basically on track and going forward.”

MLS hopes to have its first launch at the Canso Spaceport at the end of 2021 or early 2022. “A lot goes into that with 100 stakeholders,” Matier said.

Asked about the recent growth of concerns about the project in the Canso area, which were expressed at a recent community meeting and are evident in signs against the Spaceport popping up on lawns in Canso and Little Dover, Matier said: “The community is overwhelmingly supportive of this.”

With respect to invited guests at the Aug. 1 community meeting who spoke in detail about the risks of the project, Matier said he does not “share their opinions.”

“What I believe in are factually based analyses. When you look at the material that they have put out there, you peel away a layer of the onion and there is nothing in there…It’s like (these) people didn’t even bother reading the Focus Report,” he said, referencing the second, more detailed environmental approval application submitted to the Province.

Matier said he is grateful “for the continued support of the community.”

A community liaison committee for the project has been in place for a couple of years. “They are nothing but overwhelmingly supportive,” Matier said of the CLC. “They’ve asked tough questions and I’ve been answering tough questions.”

“But at end of day I think it’s healthy that people are asking questions and looking into this. I would just ask that it be factually based and people look at the facts.

“I’m happy to answer any questions.”