Maritime Launch Services (MLS) will announce today that it has selected a site in the Guysborough Municipality near Canso and Hazel Hill, Nova Scotia over 13 other prospective locations for its new commercial launch complex, or spaceport, and expects to break ground on construction within a year.
MLS is after the medium class launch market. They are offering two launch options to begin with. Option 1 is a Sun-synchronous orbit launch between 600-800 km, a much desired service at this time for smaller satellites, with a payload up to 3350 kg for US$45 million. Option 2 is a Low Earth Orbit launch, below 600 km in altitude, that will allow a payload up to 5000 kg also for US$45 million.
From 14 Prospective Locations to 1
Of the other 13 sites MLS considered, four were within Canada. MLS will not disclose the other locations that were under consideration “at the request of the sponsoring location”.
As we previously reported the Canso-Hazel Hill location had become the leading location based on a variety of factors with MLS saying “launch site and trajectory safety are the first two criteria you have to look at and then drill down from there” and this location met that criteria, but more importantly, local and federal feedback was positive.
Other criteria that resulted in the selection included very low population density and proximity to multi-modal transportation.
Representing the Municipality of Guysborough, Vernon Pitts, the Warden said “we are pleased that Maritime Launch Services has chosen to invest in our community and we look forward to continued dialogue. Since we were first introduced to this development a few months ago we have been impressed with the proponents’ approach, and we will continue to work collaboratively with MLS as the project evolves.”
Maritime Launch Services Cyclone 4M two stage rocket . Credit: Maritime Launch Services.
Funding and What Happens Next
MLS declined go into details on its funding but did say, and as we had previously reported, that United Paradyne Corporation (UPC) had provided initial funding for the venture, and that Joe Hasay, UPC’s CEO, is one of the principals in this new venture. Hasay said that UPC had been looking to expand into commercial space launch operations and this program is just what they had been looking for.
With respect to what happens next leading up to ground breaking in a years time, Steve Matier, President, told SpaceQ that “there are multiple processes that are ongoing that will have to come together prior to ground breaking including the environmental review, Crown Land use process, ongoing community coordination, A&E ( architecture and engineering services) firm selection, surveying, site design, bid packages and acquisition process, as well as the multiple elements dealing with air space and launch site safety reviews. Just to name a few.”
Yuzhnoye Design Office along with Yuzhmash of the Ukraine will be supplying MLS with a new variant of the Cyclone rocket, the 4M, and CEO John Isella had previously told SpaceQ of the new design, “the Cyclone 4 upper stage and fairing remain unchanged and the first stage is now derived from the Zenit family of vehicles using an existing Lox-RP engine that is produced in Ukraine. So a 2 stage vehicle, Lox-RP first stage.”
Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash will have several roles beyond providing the Cyclone 4M rocket according to Isella including “mission operations at the launch site, launch site design (vehicle specific systems, not general infrastructure), mission integration, mission unique vehicle accommodations including dispenser design, (and) test and manufacture if required for a given mission.”
Isella said MLS hopes that it can get through the “regulatory processes, approvals and site planning” so that after ground breaking next year the first launch from the new Spaceport could happen within two years in 2020. MLS is hoping to launch eight rockets a year by 2022.
SpaceQ contacted the Canadian Space Agency for a comment on MLS’s plans but were told they would be unable to comment at this time.
Update 9:00 a.m. EDT: Maritime Launch Services has issued the following press release: Commercial Space Launch Complex Site Selection Completed