PlanetSpace still plans to blast-off from Cape Breton, chairman says
PlanetSpace Inc. says it's still in the space race, even though it was passed over for a $170 million NASA contract earlier this week.
Chairman Chirinjeev Kathuria said Wednesday that his company is still going ahead with plans to develop space tourism and a low orbit courier service from Cape Breton.
"We're going to continue on building the Silver Dart, which we're going to use for point-to-point travel or what we call international fast freight or global express, taking packages around the world in 40 minutes," he said.
"And, eventually, human transport in 40 minutes. Also, small- and medium- size satellite launches, and, you know, the space tourism part of it."
The Chicago-based company is pressing ahead with plans to build a launch pad in Cape Breton and launch its Silver Dart within the next two years.
Kathuria said that would bring manufacturing jobs and millions in economic benefits to Cape Breton.
He said he was "disappointed" that his company failed to win the $170 million contract in the space agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project, known as COTS.
But the company hopes to land a contract with Phase 2 of the project, known as COTS 2, which Kathuria said is worth up to $2.6 billion over five years.
"Since COTS 2 is a multi-award, it's not just one company. You know, we hope that we would have better success there," Kathuria said.
COTS 2 winners to be announced in August
PlanetSpace has raised about $150 million in loans, he said, which it hopes to carry forward to the COTS 2 competition.
Kathuria said he expects NASA to announce the winners of COTS 2 by August.
On Tuesday, NASA decided not to sign a deal to launch rockets from Cape Breton, opting for a project based in Virginia instead.
Thirteen companies were vying for a contract to develop a space transportation system that could ultimately deliver cargo and crew to the International Space Station.
NASA said Tuesday that the Virginia company Orbital had the best overall package, although NASA would not give specifics about each company's bids or why Orbital was chosen over the others.
The Silver Dart spacecraft is named after the first plane to fly in Canada, which lifted off from a frozen lake in Baddeck, N.S., in February 1909.