Canada’s first commercial payload launch could take place in 2020

Written by By Jake May, CNN

Here’s one way to calm nerves — Nova Scotia-based Falcon Lake Ltd. has announced the launch client for its first commercial payload launch. The company is creating Cape Canaveral-scale rockets for commercial space companies and satellites in need of an orbital launch. The first flight is expected to take place in 2020.

The company said Monday that its first service for its launch customers will be the resupply of a military satellite.

“Our vision is that Cape Canaveral-sized vehicles could be the bread and butter of what companies require to enable commercial space operations,” Falcon Lake Chief Executive Jiri Kalaj, said in a press release.

A new takeoff?

Falcon Lake is located outside of Bathurst, Nova Scotia, and its space operations will be governed by regulations set by Canada’s Department of National Defence. It said that the key to its success is its relationship with Brookhaven National Laboratory, a federal research and development organization on Long Island, New York.

The technical aspects of rocket launch will be controlled by Fort Lee, New Jersey-based ATK Launch Systems.

“The ability to provide a high level of service, innovation and industry stability for these goals was something we were attracted to,” Orbital ATK Vice President of Commercial Launch Services Sam Madden said in a statement. “With its ground control facilities and technical and logistical experience with launch vehicles, the Space Development Institute was the best candidate to provide services on the East Coast of the United States.”

Staying on track

In May, the Canadian Space Agency awarded $8.4 million to the company for its commercial spacecraft design and support.

“A commercial launch doesn’t happen overnight, but Falcon Lake’s development has been kept on schedule,” said Bill White, Minister of Public Services and Procurement in Canada. “If private companies like Falcon Lake build and launch small satellites, our planet and our space sector will benefit, allowing us to unlock the potential of space.”

Falcon Lake is one of several startups, such as Old Dominion University, making their mark in the space industry, supporting the commercial space sector.

While the company launched a prototype this August, it will take until 2020 before commercial crews launch from Cape Canaveral.

“I firmly believe that Falcon Lake will be the leader in the commercial launch of our nation’s first satellite and, eventually, other payloads, in order to support the proliferation of commercial space assets on Earth,” said Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.

This story has been updated.

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