Space

Launches: A new northern spaceport, plus a tracking facility

Near site of northern spaceport, a snow-covered, rugged coastline.
The new northern spaceport will be in the vicinity of Canso Coastal Barrens Wilderness Area, shown here. Image via Nova Scotia, Canada, Protected Areas.

A new northern spaceport in Nova Scotia

The U.S. Space Force – which officially took control of U.S. military satellite communications in August – and a private Canadian company called Maritime Launch Services Ltd. – both recently announced construction of new space facilities north of the 45th parallel.

As a matter of fact, the Canadian facility will be Canada’s first commercial spaceport. And according to a press release, Maritime Launch Service received permission at the end of August to construct a spaceport in the easternmost reaches of Nova Scotia, near the tiny community of Hazel Hill. The company’s president and CEO, Stephen Matier, was quoted as saying the location is ideal for a spaceport:

Nova Scotia is the safest and most globally competitive location to launch satellites into space and today we are closer to realizing this potential.

The Canso Coastal Barrens Wilderness Area, is located adjacent to the construction site. But the company promises to be a good steward of that sensitive ecosystem:

Our local host communities, the Mi’kmaq and all Nova Scotians can be confident that we will build and operate the spaceport with a focus on safety and environmental stewardship.

In fact, Arstechnia reports that launches of small- and medium-lift vehicles could begin within one to two years.

Plus, according to the company’s press release, Maritime has cleared all environmental requirements for constructing a spaceport in that area. So it looks as if they won’t be undergoing the same sorts of regulatory difficulties that have plagued SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Aerial image of an air/ space facility.
An aerial image of Clear Space Force Station, in Denali, Alaska, in 1999. And the U.S. Space Force will add a new satellite tracking facility there. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

A satellite tracking facility in Alaska

Meanwhile, the U.S. Space Force is planning an even more northerly space tracking facility, to be called the the EPS-R Gateway. Where it’ll house the Space Systems Command’s Military Communications and Positioning, Navigation and Timing Directorate’s Enhanced Polar Systems-Recapitalization program. While the program’s name is so long it might seem to need a facility all to itself, it will in fact be an addition at the existing Clear Space Force Station in Denali, Alaska. And the new addition has, it seems, already broken ground.

Plus according to a press release, the facility will serve as the primary means of communication with new EPS-R satellites. Moreover, these satellites have the mission of providing:

… 24/7 protected satellite communications for U.S. polar forces operating in the Arctic region.

By the way, the program now has an international component that the U.S. Space Force says will save the better part of $1 billion:

EPS-R is an Extremely High Frequency MILSATCOM system designed to extend legacy EPS services into the early/mid-2030s. Its mission serves to provide 24/7 protected satellite communications in the Arctic region for U.S. forces across the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. The EPS-R payload is being hosted on a Norwegian satellite as part of an international partnership that leverages the Norwegian effort to provide secure communications to their region that will save the US $900 million dollars

Northern spaceport: Triangular logo with one point of the triangle pointing upward. The US Space Force and a private Canadian company plan to build space-related facilities north of the 45th parallel.
The US Space Force and a private Canadian company are constructing space-related facilities – one for tracking satellites and the other to launch them – north of the 45th parallel. U.S. Space Force logo via Wikimedia Commons.

Bottom line: The U.S. Space Force and a private Canadian company plan to build space-related facilities north of the 45th parallel.

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