While the bulk of commercial space launch activity takes place just south of the border, Canada is tired of watching from the sidelines and wants to get involved: The country’s federal transportation ministry has announced it plans to launch commercial space launches in the near future. support space launches.
The plan is for Canada to begin commercial launch activities essentially immediately, “on a case-by-case basis”, using the existing regulatory framework to determine how, where and when those launches take place. That ad hoc method is expected to last about three years, with the intention that Transport Canada will spend that time working with other relevant federal agencies and regulatory bodies to create a specific framework for modern space launch activities in the country.
It’s not that Canada isn’t already participating in the space economy: On the contrary, Transport Canada said aerospace commercial activity contributed more than $22 billion in GDP to the country’s economy in 2020. The commercial launch industry is clearly heating up, however Canada believes it is geographically and strategically well positioned to capitalize.
Some homegrown start-ups are already experimenting with the possibilities of launching a small payload from Canada, including SpaceRyde, which uses small balloon rockets to make the relatively short journey to low Earth orbit. But opening commercial operations more broadly could help Canada bring existing commercial launch entities, including SpaceX, Rocket Lab and the other companies seeking to join them, to court as an additional North American launch option.