THE FINAL FRONTIER: Maritime Launch Services (MLS) held a pre-launch ceremony at the Spaceport Nova Scotia site near Canso on Wednesday, July 5 prior to the sub-orbital launch of a two-stage rocket on July 6. Featured above are Arbalest Rocketry team member Ariyanna Kresnyak (far right) with MLS President and CEO Steve Matier (centre) and Adam Trumpour, president of Launch Canada (left) with an earlier prototype of the rocket used in the launch from the spaceport. In attendance at the ceremony, seated left to right, are Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway and Guysborough-Tracadie MLA Greg Morrow. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CANSO – Maritime Launch Services (MLS) took one more step last week towards its goal of becoming Canada’s first commercial spaceport. With a window of three days, July 5 through 7, MLS, in partnership with Launch Canada and Arbalest Rocketry – a rocketry team from Ontario’s York University, set out to execute a sub-orbital launch from the Spaceport Nova Scotia site near the communities of Canso, Hazel Hill and Little Dover.

Local, provincial and national dignitaries – including most members of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council; Guysborough-Tracadie MLA Greg Morrow; Cape Breton Canso MP Mike Kelloway; Rose Paul, representing Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation; MLA Brian Wong, minister of Advanced Education; former Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil (who is also a member of the MLS strategic advisory board), and former Central Nova MP Peter McKay – as well as area stakeholders – were invited to a pre-launch ceremony at the site on July 5.

Although the weather didn’t allow the rocket launch to move forward until the following day, July 6, the ceremony celebrating the milestone event went ahead with speeches to mark the occasion.

Kelloway told the approximately 100 people gathered under the tent that comprised the viewing platform, “Our government is exceptionally proud to support the expansion of Canada’s space launch capabilities. Now, we recognize that Canada is not only geographically well positioned to support commercial space launches, but also that our communities, and this is important, are ready to rise to the challenge in this new sector. You see it here today…This presents so many economic opportunities for rural areas…which turns into good jobs, good paying jobs for people at home and for generations that follow them.”

The MP went on to say that development of the space launch sector in Canada is why the government is modernizing the regulatory framework to foster a safe and prosperous path forward in the sector.

For the community that claims Spaceport Nova Scotia as their own, Kelloway said, “This will be a destination; this will be a destination for the world. People will come here to do business here. People will come here to establish businesses here. People will come here to spend their money in terms of tourism dollars here. With that in mind, I think this is another good day for Canso, for Guysborough County.”

Morrow, who before his election to public office worked as a journalist, said in that previous position he had watched this project since its infancy, and now, as MLA, he sees the potential in the area with so many projects on the cusp of fruition, projects like Spaceport Nova Scotia.

“It’s so exciting when you talk about the country’s first commercial spaceport being in Nova Scotia and then, when you drill down and it’s in Guysborough-Tracadie, it’s so exciting for this area,” said Morrow.

Nova Scotia’s Minister of Advanced Education Brian Wong said that, when he’d first heard of this project, he was hoping he’d get to see it. In comments about what the launch and the project meant for students in the province, he said, “We have a university system that is really world class and part of my goal as Minister of Advanced Education is to make sure that students get a quality education and, hopefully, they are going to stay here in Nova Scotia… [MLS] is another option for students to stay here in Nova Scotia.”

MLS President and CEO Steve Matier was notably excited as he stood at the podium to speak to those gathered for the pre-launch ceremony. He said, “When we started this collaboration with Launch Canada and Arbalest, it was really about us getting our sea legs a little bit. You don’t just start with a big rocket and try to do everything right…We’ve learned so much already. This is a wonderful success. We’ve got coordination with Transport Canada and Nav Canada for permission to launch under the licensing regime they have; airspace coordination to make sure there is no air traffic nearby because this thing is going to 25-plus kilometres in altitude and 10 or so downrange, and you need to make sure there is no air traffic in the way. Coordinating with RCMP, coordinating with the fire department and the community, the logistics that go into running anything like this; this has been 100 per cent a success just to get to this point in time.”

Following Matier at the podium was Adam Trumpour, president of Launch Canada, who began his comments by noting that rocketry isn’t something that we’ve focused on in Canada until the last several years, when a surge of interest in space launches welled up, driven by university students.

Trumpour said, “We’ve had this Canadian student rocketry movement that’s been saying, ‘Hey wait a minute, why can’t we do this here?’ And, initially, we started seeing the creation of student rocket teams…now we’ve got 25 university teams right across the country. There are more Canadian rocket teams than there are universities with any sort of aerospace programs, and they have been dominating at big international rocket competitions for years.”

MLS, said Trumpour, created opportunities for students in Canada that have never existed.

Arbalest Rocketry team member Ariyanna Kresnyak gave an enthusiastic and fulsome explanation of rocketry; the aerodynamics, the nomenclature and the purpose of various components, such as canards – small wing-like projections attached to an aircraft forward of the main wing to provide extra stability or control, sometimes replacing the tail.

She explained the two-stage rocket system: “The goal of the first stage is to help that second stage punch through the sound barrier and ignite…so now the second stage lights up around 8,000 to 10,000 feet in altitude and it’s already going Mach 1.5 and its motor carries it now to Mach 3 and it continues on up to about 80,000 feet.”

Canadians often think space is for superpowers, not us, Kresnyak said, adding, “As a Canadian, you don’t really know how active we have been in space. We have a very robust space sector – we have communication satellites, space robotics; we did the Canadarm…but we’re not strong in getting all the robotics and communication satellites there. And that’s what we’re missing out on. So, getting to be a part of that, being able to take this passion I have in school and contribute it to building Canada, makes me incredibly proud to be Canadian because I can actually be a part of this country.”

Also included on the day’s guest list was Eric Vachon, director general of the Canadian Space Agency. He said of the project, “We are really part of a growing movement to grow Canadian rocketry and launch capability in Canada. And supporting young space innovators is really a priority for us…our goal is to really build capacity for the evolving space sector, to enable students to contribute their involvement in space technology and the advancement of scientific knowledge as well.

“Worldwide the space economy is changing…and space is getting more accessible. In fact, the space economy is set to triple by 2040 to $1.1 trillion. It’s really growing. It’s really booming, so there’s no better time to be involved in space,” said Vachon.

Rose Paul rounded out comments for the day, stating how pleased she was to work with MLS and how excited she would be to see the first rocket launch at the Spaceport Nova Scotia site.

Notably absent from the MLS site, or near the Canso Lions Club, where all visitors met to catch the bus that transported everyone onto the MLS site, were protestors. While MLS didn’t issue a press release about the launch window in July, the Facebook group Action Against Canso Spaceport was aware of the July 5 launch date.

On July 4, the group made a post questioning Transport Canada’s regulations regarding the dimensions required for the launch site, which is defined by Transport Canada as, “An area authorized and used for high power rocket launch activities. This includes all areas required for preparation, launch, recovery, public viewing and parking.”

A Transport Canada-Canadian Launch Safety Office document, Requirements for Launching High Power Rockets in Canada, dated Jan., 4, 2000 states: “In no case shall the minimum dimension of the launch site be less than one-half the estimated maximum altitude of the high power rocket.”

The Journal asked Transport Canada to confirm the dimensions of the launch site for the two-stage rocket launched July 5, with a predicted altitude of 25 kilometres.

In an email on July 7, a media spokesperson for Transport Canada replied as follows: “Transport Canada provided Launch Canada Rocketry Association with an authorization after thoroughly reviewing the application to ensure that Transport Canada high power rockets regulatory requirements are met. The authorization was granted on June 22, 2023.

“A rigorous trajectory analysis has been provided which shows that the launch will meet Transport Canada requirements for the minimum safety distance. This launch will be offset from vertical to ensure a safe ballistic flight path. This area is defined in the launch application.”

The Journal has asked Transport Canada for further clarification on the launch site dimensions.

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 12, 2023 at 04:52

This item reprinted with permission from   Guysborough Journal   Guysborough, Nova Scotia
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