N.S. should get behind space launch project, says opposition
The Nova Scotia government needs to step up and make sure the proposed PlanetSpace Inc. project goes ahead on Cape Breton Island, say opposition politicians.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said Thursday that the Conservative government should take a proactive role in supporting the company that wants to build a space launch pad in Cape Breton.
The Chicago-based company, PlanetSpace, lost its bid to win a $170-million NASA-sponsored competition Monday. But 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.
McNeil said the government should get on board with the project.
Right now, the province has offered PlanetSpace Crown Land in Cape Breton, but negotiations are continuing.
"The government should be saying, 'What is it that we can do? Is there a role for the province to play to making it a reality? Is it feasible?' Those kinds of questions need to be asked so that some economic activity will be happening," McNeil said.
NDP MLA Gordie Goss agrees the province should be more supportive of the project.
"The government should be out there at the forefront promoting this project for Cape Breton Island. They know the economic factors in the Island, and so does everybody," said Goss, who represents the riding of Cape Breton Nova.
"This government knows full well that any kind of employment and any kind of a job opportunity would be a great thing for the Island."
He said the province does not need to give the company any money because it can raise funding through the private sector.
Silver Dart project continues
Kathuria said Wednesday that his company is going to continue 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 the company is also planning to eventually transport people, launch small- and medium-sized satellites and get involved in space tourism.
PlanetSpace is also hoping to land a contract with Phase 2 of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project, known as COTS 2, which Kathuria said is worth up to $2.6 billion over five years. The contract will be awarded in August.
PlanetSpace has raised about $150 million in loans, he said, which it hopes to carry forward to the COTS 2 competition.
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. It was built by the Aerial Experiment Association formed by Alexander Graham Bell.