Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to have launch pad

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The province of Nova Scotia has agreed to set aside 300 acres in Cape Breton for the country's first orbital launch facility, the Toronto Star reported Wednesday. According to the Star, the Canadian Space Agency has been aware of a proposed orbital launch facility for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for several months and is "pleased."

"Seeing industry taking a strong role and a leadership role in this area is not something we're against," said Hugues Gilbert, the agency's director-general of policy planning and relations. "Au contraire, this is something we're very pleased to see."

The proposal came from a Canada and U.S. firm called PlanetSpace.org. They are working on a shuttle called the Silver Dart. It plans to construct a spacecraft capable of shuttling astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, then gliding back to Earth. PlanetSpace picked Cape Breton as a launch site because of its location in relation to the International Space Station.

Nova Scotia Business Inc., a government development agency, recommended the move after reviewing the company’s business plan. The province will allow PlanetSpace to use 120 hectares of Crown land for the project.

"PlanetSpace is a company that is very involved in the commercialization of space," government spokesman Mark James said Wednesday.

PlanetSpace says NASA is so intrigued with its proposed "Silver Dart" vehicle and launch location it's willing to provide unfunded technical support. PlanetSpace and a related company, Canadian Arrow, have built and tested a powerful liquid fuel rocket engine near London, Ontario.

"PlanetSpace also says it's in discussions with NASA to sign a Space Act Agreement, which would give us the technology to complete the vehicle", said Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, chairman of PlanetSpace.

The spacecraft is expected to launch vertical atop a stack of about 10 Canadian Arrow rocket engines and land horizontally on an aircraft runway, they added.

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