Canadian Spaceport in Nova Scotia Gets Environment Ministry Approval to Move Forward

Maritime Launch Services spaceport animation. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.

Today Nova Scotia Environment gave the approval for Maritime Launch Services (MLS) to move forward with its plan to build a spaceport in the Hazel Hill – Canso area of Guysborough County.

Maritime Launch Services is a Halifax based startup looking to build a spaceport in Nova Scotia to launch satellites. They plan on initially using a Ukrainian Yuzhnoye designed Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket which is being built by Yuzhmash, also of the Ukraine. The spaceport could eventually be home to other launch companies as well.

Maritime Launch Services Cyclone 4M rocket
Maritime Launch Services Cyclone 4M rocket. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.

It was just over a month ago that the Gordon Wilson was appointed as the new Nova Scotia Minister of Environment. His department provided its recommendation to the Minister two weeks ago, meaning he had to get-up-to speed on the file very quickly.

For Maritime Launch Services this marks the most significant milestone to date, and one where a negative decision would have meant the the end of the project.

Two of the MLS’s immediate objectives include getting the land lease approved as soon as possible, and closing an initial round of outside financing.

With the environmental assessment (EA) approved, MLS hopes that the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry comes through with the land lease soon. MLS wants to begin surveying the land in preparation for construction.

In a statement released by MLS this morning, Steve Matier, President and CEO of MLS said “today’s decision by Minister Wilson affirms the commitment of MLS to build and operate Nova Scotia’s spaceport with environmental sensitivity and safety as priorities. Once again, we thank the community for its overwhelming support for this initiative. This is an exciting day for the communities of Canso, Hazel Hill and Little Dover, the province, and the country. We are grateful to Minister Wilson and his staff for their rigorous and thorough environmental assessment process.”

The statement also said “Canada’s first commercial spaceport is one step closer to reality today following approval from the provincial government’s Department of Environment.”

The approval came with some conditions (Available below). None of which are show stoppers, according to Matier who responded to SpaceQ’s inquiry. The MLS statement also addressed the conditions saying “MLS will comply with each of the conditions of the approval and will be working with the Department of Lands and Forestry to complete the Crown Land lease with the goal of a ceremonial groundbreaking in July. The proposed commercial spaceport will become an economic engine in the region and will build upon Canada’s heritage in the global space community.”

Part of an MLS community open house brochure in handed out December 2017
Part of an MLS community open house brochure in handed out December 2017. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.

Matier and he said he expects to make announcement soon with regards to financing. Having the EA approved was the critical piece in getting financing in place. Matier also told SpaceQ that he made a recent trip to the Ukraine to see how the Ukrainian rocket manufacturer Yuzhmash was progressing with building initial components for the Cyclone 4M rocket MLS will use. Also on hand, according to Matier, was a key potential investor.

Matier told SpaceQ that “he was impressed” with how much progress was being made at Yuzhmash and that he noted new manufacturing equipment including 3D printers which are now being used for building some components. Matier remarked that it appeared Yuzhmash has received an influx of capital since the last time he was there. Matier provided the following images from his tour.

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Cylone 4M Payload Fairing final acceptance test
Cylone 4M payload fairing final acceptance test. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.
First stage assembly hall at Yuzhmash
First stage assembly hall at Yuzhmash with Cyclone CM4 first stage hardware and on the far right Northrop Grumman Antares first stages. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.


Cyclone 4M full upper stage propulsion system in preparation for acceptance hot fire test expected in July or August
Cyclone 4M full upper stage propulsion system in preparation for acceptance hot fire test expected in July or August. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.
Multi axis component spin testing machine
Multi axis component spin testing machine. Credit: Maritime Launch Services.
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MLS has also had conversations with more than one “large” constellation manufacturer about using the spaceport to launch some of their satellites. Matier wouldn’t comment on who the discussions have been with, or details such as how many could fly on the Ukrainian Cyclone 4M rocket they’ll be using.

Matier also said he hopes the official groundbreaking ceremony happens in July. Coincidentally, Global Affairs Canada and Minister Chrystia Freeland will be hosting the third Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto July 2 – 4. With Ukrainian Ministers in Canada in early July it would provide an opportunity for them to attend a groundbreaking ceremony sometime after the conference.

Nova Scotia Environment Minister letter and conditions

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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