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Canada's first spaceport could host launches in 2020


Canada will finally have its own spaceport courtesy of private space corporation Maritime Launch Services. The company plans to start building (PDF) the facility next year in an isolated town on Nova Scotia's eastern coast. It decided on the site after assessing 14 different candidates. The town's and surrounding areas' low population density and the fact that rockets launching from the spaceport will fly over a large body of water make it the perfect location.

The spaceport is a commercial venture between MLS and a Ukrainian firm -- there's no government funding involved at all. MLS wants the first launch to happen as soon as 2020, and it wants to the spaceport to host as many as eight launches per year by 2022. Most of those missions will involve Ukrainian-built Cyclone 4M rockets, and it's unclear if Canada's space agency and other private space companies can use it. If the agency can, then it'll no longer have to ship rockets to Virginia. For now, the company is working on getting federal and provincial approval so it can break ground and start with the spaceport's construction.

Spaceflight Bill paves the way for a UK spaceport in 2020

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Space isn't just big, it's big business. According to the government, the UK's space industry is already worth more than £13.7 billion to the economy, but one thing's missing: The infrastructure needed to send the next satellite or experiment up into the void from British shores. Plans to grow the commercial space sector have been under way for some time, and several potential sites for the UK's (and potentially Europe's) first spaceport have already been proposed. But before you can shoot for the stars, you have to regulate, which is the intention of the Draft Spaceflight Bill introduced today.

The publication of the bill follows the announcement earlier this month of a £10 million fund to support UK companies in developing launch capabilities. The Draft Spaceflight Bill isn't nearly as cool as it sounds, though, because it tackles the more boring regulatory framework we need before rockets can blast off from local spaceports. We're talking spaceflight licences, restricted launch zones, insurance requirements, astronaut training and other safety obligations -- that sort of stuff.

Once there's an agreement on what rules need making, the finer details will be worked out in secondary legislation, and the government thinks it's feasible we'll have an operational UK spaceport in 2020. It's a good thing we already know Brits make cracking astronauts then.



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