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article imageMaritime Launch Services submits environmental report to province

By Karen Graham     Mar 24, 2019 in Environment
Canso - The head of a company proposing to open Canada’s only commercial spaceport near the small community of Canso, N.S., says the impact of any launch failure would be relatively small.
Stephen Matier, the president, and chief executive officer of Maritime Launch Services said that while a launch failure could happen, there is a lot of research and engineering expertise that goes into avoiding it, reports The Star Halifax.
“When you’re analyzing a rocket, you’re analyzing the trajectory, the location, and you’re putting in the engineering controls and the processes, mature technology, you’re nowhere near the general public and you’ve got a rocket with a heritage of hundreds of successful flights,” he said. “...That makes it an extremely unlikely event.”
Matier does point out that the chance of a launch failure is not zero. In the 475-page Focus Report, Maritime Launch Services filed with the Nova Scotia government, the company details the environmental impacts of launch failures under a variety of scenarios, according to CTV News Canada.
Discussing a failure scenario on the launch pad, the report says it would leave a crater in the granite about 10 meters (33 feet) deep, with some trees and soil burned in the immediate vicinity of the explosion. Mailer says in this scenario, the damage would be self-contained, with any propellant breaking down in a matter of days.
Canso  Nova Scotia  Canada  as seen returning from Grassy Island.
Canso, Nova Scotia, Canada, as seen returning from Grassy Island.
"We have picked a place that doesn't have endangered species. It's a big piece of granite with not much else on it," he said. "The whole engineering analysis of it shows that it will be contained at the site itself. No long term environmental consequences will happen."
As for a failure just after launch, Mailer says there could be craters up to seven meters deep from the first and second stages falling back to earth, with some tree and soil damage. However, Matier says inflight failure would likely occur over the ocean.
"We never overfly anyone. Within five miles of the site, we're over 60,000 feet and that happens in about 105 seconds. It gets out of there fast and then is traveling down range, hundreds of kilometers high," he said.
Environment Minister Margaret Miller asked for a rethink in relation to the Canso spaceport in August 2018, saying she didn't have enough information to make a decision on whether to approve the project.
The public will be allowed to make comments on the Focus Report until April 19. Then it will be reviewed by the regulators. After that, the Environment Department will have 25 days to make a recommendation to the minister, reports CBC Canada.
More about Canso spaceport, Maritime launch services, Environmental impact, commercial spaceport, Hydrazines
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