CANSO: Maritime Launch Services Ltd. (MLS) recently selected eastern Guysborough County as the site of a rocket launch base after looking at several communities in North America.

Guysborough Warden Vernon Pitts explained the site is between Canso and Little Dover.

“That’s where we’re putting our energy,” said MLS president Steve Matier.

“We’ve been looking at a number of locations… trying to identify the one that really met our needs and also the support from the community for the development of a launch complex.”

Some of the criteria included needing a site with a large buffer around it so as to not impact residents and access to a correct launch trajectory, preferably over water. The company also looked at nearby ports and the ease with which parts can be brought to the site.

Matier said Canso initially looked good on paper, which led to a site visit in April of last year and a follow up in November. MLS then hosted an open house at the Canso-Hazel Hill Fire Department in January after speaking to various bodies such as Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ve got the regulatory hurdles and environmental review process that has to go through,” he said.

“We’re working with the province on that as we’re speaking. We’ve initiated some of the elements for the data collection for the environmental review.”

The environmental review process includes coordination with DNR and First Nations.

“The goal is to have all the myriad parts coming together by about this time next year where we can put a shovel in the ground and get going,” he said. “The timeline is to initiate construction in one year, to complete the development of the launch facility 18 months after that and our first launch would be in early 2020. By about 2022 or so is when we expect to meet a launch frequency of about six to eight launches per year.”

Matier previously said the company began working on the space-port idea some time ago, noting that the team making up the company has several decades of combined experience in the field. He said the idea for the launch site is to be able to launch satellite-carrying rockets into space, noting there is a significant need for observation-type satellites, Internet satellites and others.

The reported the cost of the proposed facility, which could include a launch pad and a processing facility, would be close to $100 million.