OTTAWA – Canada has removed a major barrier to rocket launches from the country’s soil.
The government has given the green light to request an orbital launch license in Canada, allowing a spaceport in rural Nova Scotia to host not only its first suborbital mission in 2023, but a test orbital launch in 2024 To try.
government announcement (opens in new tab) It “signals to the world that Canada is a major player in the commercial space industry,” wrote Nova Scotia spaceport manager Maritime Launch Services (MLS). on twitter (opens in new tab) on Friday (January 20).
The announcement brings Canada closer to claiming a share of the lucrative global satellite launch business. The plan also gives the nation the sovereignty to launch to an orbital mission for the first time since reaching orbit on an American rocket, called the Alouette, after taking off from California on September 21, 1962.
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MLS has a clear lead in orbital launches here; Its spaceport next to the Atlantic Ocean is the only one currently under construction in Canada. MLS customers include International Space Station lab manager NanoRacks and Quebec clean-tech rocket provider Rocket Dynamics.
In addition to signing clients, the MLS is also working hard to meet current government licensing guidelines. “The company has already done a lot of work in anticipation of what we announced,” Marc Garneau, a Liberal member of parliament in French, said during a livestreamed event on Friday at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) headquarters near Montreal. ” -Application green light. (French translation provided by Space.com.)
According to the Ottawa Citizen, Garneau, a former CSA astronaut, said in 2014 that domestic launches are too expensive. (opens in new tab), But that was a different era, when there was little commercial space activity. These days, mobile and small spaceports are popping up in places like England, continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand to capitalize on the booming industry.
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Let’s talk about the significance of today’s announcement… 🧵 Did you know that commercial space launches are about to begin in 🇨🇦? it is. And it’s going to be near Canso, Nova Scotia. 1/6January 20, 2023
Canada’s coastline, which is said to be the longest in the world, shares many good characteristics with the spaceport. Not only are they largely rural locations, but Canada’s high latitude also allows for polar launches that are suitable for global Earth observation or military applications.
Suborbital sounding rockets used to fly regularly from the far north to Canada at a rocket range in Churchill near Hudson Bay for atmospheric studies. According to archived Canadian Space Agency material, Black Brant rockets were launched from there 3,500 times between 1950 and 1981. (opens in new tab),
The nautical launch location serves a wide range of polar/sun-synchronous and other orientations. This enables a comprehensive offering for the commercial space transportation industry. #maritimelaunch 🚀 pic.twitter.com/fiSeVy8VzWSeptember 18, 2019
The last sub-orbital launch was 25 years ago by Acquit Aerospace Inc., which after its 1998 launch failed to find enough customers to convert Churchill into a commercial facility. Other Canadian suborbital sites fell in similar fashion, according to the data (opens in new tab) From satellite tracker and Harvard Smithsonian astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell.
Short-term plan for orbital launch underway in Canada, Liberal government announces (opens in new tab), would involve approving them on a “case-by-case” basis. The process is complex and will require multiple government departments – and private civil airspace operator NAV Canada – to sign off before Transport Canada can issue a special flight operations certificate. (opens in new tab) for a launch.
International and domestic launches from Canadian soil will be considered equally, but there is no guarantee of approval, officials stressed during a Friday press conference on whether a country like China could launch from here.
Canada will also work on a more flexible licensing process that could end by 2026, after consultation with industry, Indigenous groups and the public – and assuming the Liberals win the next Canadian federal election, likely no later than 2025.
However, regulatory approvals have been known to take longer than originally envisioned. The approval of the Orbital Starship launch proposal at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas generated more public backlash than expected, for example delaying the completion of a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) environmental assessment from December 2021 to June 2022 .
Starship has yet to reach orbit, perhaps partly because the FAA tasked SpaceX with 75 action items before providing final signoff.