During the sixth Space Café Canada event on April 29, 2022, host Jessica West sat down with Stephen Matier, President and CEO of Maritime Launch Services and Spaceport Nova Scotia, Canada’s first commercial space launch complex.
In contrast to most other spaceports around the world, Spaceport Nova Scotia is intended to be fully commercial. The current goal is to begin sending medium-sized launch vehicles to low Earth orbit (LEO), where commercial activity is now dominant, possibly by 2024. Commercial access to LEO is driving innovation in space, including synthetic aperture radar for 24-hour Earth imaging, broadband internet, and the capacity to detect and monitor methane leaks from space.
Nonetheless, there are community concerns about possible safety and environmental impacts. MLS claims that it is making the spaceport and its operations as sustainable as possible, including attempting to make the site carbon neutral, meeting environmental regulations and planning for safety, but space launch and the use of rocket fuel are not risk-free.
There are also plans to mitigate space debris. MLS is working with NanoRacks on a “mission extension kit” that will repurpose the upper stage of the rocket rather than leave it in orbit as junk. And MLS is working with another customer to be able to remove and replace dead satellites in orbit with new ones, rather than leaving them there as junk for decades.
What is clear from this discussion is the need for more public engagement about commercial space activities and regulations in Canada.
To listen to the Space Café Canada Session, you can watch the full program here: