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MLS set to prepare suborbital launch pad

  • February 22 2023
  • By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH – Maritime Launch Services (MLS) celebrated Valentine’s Day by announcing on Twitter that they had completed the access roads to the horizontal integration facility – a large, hangar-like building where rockets are assembled before launch – and would now move to work on the launch pad for the first commercial satellite launch facility in Canada, Spaceport Nova Scotia, located near Canso.

The tweet was accompanied by an aerial video of the Spaceport Nova Scotia site depicting the completed roadways. A week after the video was released, it had been viewed more than 8,000 times.

The Journal spoke with MLS President and CEO Steve Matier on Feb. 17 about the next steps for the project.

Matier said the weather has been good for construction thus far this winter.

“We really haven’t lost any real days due to weather. That’s been really helpful.”

Now the company will turn to constructing a small launch pad to accommodate a suborbital launch projected for this summer.

“We’re working on a crawl, walk, run approach where we’ll do the suborbital launch working with our federal partners – Transport Canada, Nav Canada – to take the baby steps of doing something small first. Suborbital meaning it is not going to go into space.

“This pad….is a smaller concrete pad that will hold what’s called a launch rail on it. That will then hold the smaller, very small, launch vehicle on it,” said Matier.

The rocket MLS is looking at for the suborbital launch is between eight and nine feet tall and could fit in the trunk of a car, Matier told The Journal. “It’s not a big rocket.”

Matier went on to say that the first launch is not about where it is going or what it is going to do, “It’s about working with our federal partners and Transport Canada on how to work together... It’s really about getting that experience of control of public access, control of the air space, etc.”

As an example of what is entailed in a suborbital launch – including launch rail use, rocket size, area set up and preparation, and launch process – Matier suggests visiting the website of Launch Canada (launchcanada.org), which sponsors an industry-partnered student rocket competition series. The website provides videos and photos of suborbital launches from the competition held last August in Ontario.