The Canadian Space Agency does not have a stake in Maritime Launch Services (MLS), nor have they provided them any funding, but in a quiet way, they are supportive.
If you talk to people from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) about MLS they’ll say they find the proposal for a Canadian spaceport in Nova Scotia interesting, or that it looks promising. They won’t go on the record and say we support them.
But as was evidenced last week, and in their own way, they publicly voiced support for a Maritime Launch Services initiative. It’s a small thing, but it is important.
The support came on the occasion of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) and MLS.
According to Joe MacDonald, Executive Director Government Relations & Strategic Initiatives at StFX, the two organizations will work “in the areas of research, scientific testing, technology development, environmental protection, economic development, training and employment of highly qualified personnel.”
MLS will also provide at no charge, a launch, as a secondary payload, for a 3U CubeSat to be developed by StFX.
In attendance at the event was the Hon. Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health & Wellness and Gaelic Affairs and Antigonish MLA, Mary Preville, Director General of Policy for the Canadian Space Agency, and representatives from ACOA, Nova Scotia Business Inc., other local officials and business representatives.
Speakers included Minister Delorey and importantly, Mary Preville of the CSA.
According to a StFX media report, Preville offered the CSA’s congratulations on the MOU. That the CSA was represented, and spoke at this event is important.
In an email to SpaceQ, Steve Matier, Maritime Launch Services CEO said “I thought the event was amazing and went extremely well. What we saw was a collaboration unfolding between Maritime Launch, StFX and the CSA. We gave StFX launch space for free for a 3U CubeSat satellite that they are thrilled about designing the science experiment for. The CSA offered to assist them with the planning and integration.”
Matier then went on to provide further details on the collaboration with StFX.
“We also cited two additional specific areas for collaboration. One is to connect the GCIFA (Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association) and StFX and assist (fund) the enhancement of the water quality management sampling program. It is currently a very small and seasonal ocean water sampling and analysis program that, as responsible community members, we want to see expanded significantly to a robust program that includes the StFX staff and students and more frequent and more thorough analysis program, independent from us. We want that database started long before first launch. The other one was to start up an air emissions monitoring initiative.”
During the ceremony the topic of providing good long term jobs was discussed and in particular how MLS is committed to working with local communities, including the education system, to build up new skills.
Matier commented on this in his email as well saying “we also talked about the importance for the schools in the community and the opportunity for our kids to be a part of this growth and to be able to find jobs locally. MLS has a commitment to bringing as much of the employment opportunity to the local community. That means engineers, technicians and other trades (see our recent Q&A). I have personally been in the schools doing presentations to kids about satellites and what they are for. Trying to get them to look up at the stars and see the opportunities out there. Deep space, near earth imaging, communications, etc, are all key to what we are doing. The CSA has a STEM program here in the province with the First Nations community, as well. In short, this was intended to be a celebration of the opportunity for the local community and I felt like we accomplished that.”
SpaceQ has learned that a prominent potential investor did accompany MLS on their last visit to the Ukraine to visit Yuzhnoye. That visit was in part to ascertain progress on the development of the Cyclone 4M rocket. Matier said due to non-disclosure agreements, MLS can not discuss who the investors are at this point.
In an update on our story “Fake News Prompts Negative Story on Maritime Launch Services in the Halifax Examiner“, the Halifax Examiner’s Tim Bousquet has offered a retraction but has not removed the story: “Update, January 20: The Chicago Morning Star is not a credible news source. This item should not have been published. The fault is mine, and mine alone, and I apologize.”