HALIFAX — Canada could be the next country to get a slice of the “trillion-dollar space economy” pie if new plans to launch rockets from Nova Scotia take off.
On Wednesday, a Quebec company will announce plans to launch from a future spaceport outside the town of Canso, Nova Scotia, more than 200 kilometers northeast of Halifax.
That means rockets from Reaction Dynamics — a new type of hybrid rocket that uses recycled plastic and a liquid oxidizer as fuel — could, in theory, lift off and carry an orbital payload from Spaceport Nova Scotia, the world’s first commercial spaceport. country, as early as 2024.
If the Reaction rocket were to launch as hoped – from a spaceport that has yet to be built and has faced some community opposition to date – it could open the window to a whole new sector of the Canadian economy, say proponents.
“The big news is that Canada will become a launch state,” predicted Maritime Launch Services President and CEO Stephen Matier in an interview with the Star.
“Canada’s first launch will include a Canadian launch site, a Canadian launch vehicle — Reaction Dynamics — and Canadian satellites.
A demonstration launch is planned from Canso Spaceport next year, he said, with an actual payload in orbit by 2024.
The idea is that this could be the path for Canadian companies to join the Richard Bransons, Jeff Bezoses and Elon Musks of the world in entering what is estimated to be a trillion-dollar space economy by 2040. .
If all goes as planned, said Reaction CEO and CTO Bachar Elzein, companies wanting to put satellites into orbit around Earth would have a more economical, flexible and safer method than current alternatives.
What makes this possible, he said, is his company’s rocket design, a hybrid design, rather than the liquid-fueled type, or the rarer solid-fueled design.
Due to their simplicity, the launch cost of hybrid rockets is much lower, Elzein said. This simplicity also lends itself to a much smaller carbon footprint on the manufacturing side, he said.
The hybrid idea isn’t a new concept, but Elzein said his company has overcome some major hurdles.
“One of the main problems with hybrids is that you can’t really run a high-performance hybrid rocket engine for long periods of time. That’s the problem Reaction Dynamics was able to solve.
According to Elzein, Reaction’s solution not only meant that their hybrid rockets would be powerful and efficient enough to put payloads into orbit, but they would also be able to pulse their motors – turning them on and off multiple times to control the rocket. in the space.
This is a first for hybrid engines in the industry, Matier said.
Reaction’s orbital rockets would be designated as “small class” – 10 to 15 meters long and capable of payloads of 100 to 150 kilograms. According to the company, this design can be extended to medium-class rockets, capable of payloads of two tons and more.
For MLS, the 2024 launch of the Reaction rockets would be just Phase 1 of Matier’s grand plan for Spaceport Nova Scotia.
Ultimately, for Phase 2, he said, he wants to be able to house and launch mid-class rockets.
Currently, Spaceport Nova Scotia is a 300-acre piece of land, about six kilometers outside of Canso, with little infrastructure.
Matier said what makes this location ideal for a spaceport is not just its geography, but also its access to infrastructure.
There is an isolated buffer zone around the spaceport. To the south and east is the open ocean, and the general vicinity has a deep seaport and university infrastructure. It’s also a sweet spot in terms of orbital inclinations — the angles at which rockets lift off to reach particular orbits, Matier said.
For reaction launches, little preparation will be needed, he said, just a concrete launch pad, support buildings and public access control.
This work, he said, should be completed by the middle of next year, pending the completion of compliance tasks – a wetland mitigation plan and a wildlife management plan. , among others – established by the province’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in its approval of the spaceport.
There is, he acknowledges, a section of the Canso community that opposes the spaceport, but he pointed to another community group that has petitioned the provincial government in support of the project, whose Matier projects would mean 50 full-time jobs.
“We’re talking about a trillion dollar economy when we talk about space in 2040. It’s really going to change a lot of lives,” Elzein said. “We as Canada need to be part of this economy.
“That’s why you need a launch site that will allow us to have this access to space and a launch vehicle…the two components work hand in hand.”
Reaction said it plans initial tests of its rocket in the fall of this year, with a test launch at Canso Spaceport in 2023 and a full commercial launch scheduled for 2024.
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