On some glittering summer’s day, this decade or maybe next, you might find me rusticating on the back deck of my ancestral home overlooking Nova Scotia’s great, grumbling Chedabucto Bay – as deep and dangerous as the firmament itself.
There, I will hoist a late-afternoon drink, cast my eyes toward the town of Canso and count down to what my wife and I will have dubbed the greatest show on Earth: 10-nine-eight-seven-six-five-four-three-two-one.
“Honey, be quick,” I will bark. “You’re going to miss it, again.”
My beloved will rush from the kitchen, a glass in hand, and settle into a lawn chair – one of several we’ve dubbed ‘pods’ – and watch a rocket carrying orbital satellites penetrate the celestial plain.
Welcome, earthlings, to the future home of Maritime Launch Services (MLS). According to the news, Nova Scotia’s government regulators have put their provisional stamp of approval on its planned spaceport in this remote eastern-shore location.
As The Guysborough Journal’s Helen Murphy reported recently, “A planned rocket launch facility in the Canso area is much closer to reality now following the Department of Environment’s conditional approval Tuesday, June 4. The decision was based on the focus report submitted to the department by MLS in March. The company plans to start construction this coming summer, with first launch in the last quarter of 2021.”
Last year, the CBC noted, “Nova Scotia is familiar with launching ships, but never quite like this. The Halifax-based (MLS), which is a joint venture of three U.S.-based firms, hopes to launch eight rockets annually by 2022. The facility would launch with 3,350-kg payloads on a due south trajectory at a cost of $60 million (apiece). The site would include a launch pad and a processing building, as well as a control centre.”
Presumably, the total estimated price for this Cape Canaveral of the Great White North does not include the cost of a slice of Cyclone 4M pizza, named after the rockets’ make and model and now offered at AJ’s Pub in Canso.
Meanwhile, any ground-breaking in July would be largely ceremonial on account of a population of nesting birds in the area. Accordingly, says MLS president Steve Matier, the company will start building roads after the fowl have flown their various coops.
This is not the first time stargazing capitalists have turned their attention to this part of Canada’s East Coast as the next home of the putative ‘great frontier.’ Some years ago, NASA seriously considered northern Cape Breton as an ancillary location for one of its launch pads into the great wide open.
In the end, nothing happened.
But should a spaceport now find its way to the craggy, windswept shores of this particular sector of Canadian campfire country, I will do what any sensible chap would: check my property and ascertain how, exactly, to cash in.
Shall I turn my large, rural home into an Airbnb, catering exclusively to Swiss, German and Saudi techno-junkies?
Shall I buy a fleet of limos with which to Uber my customers to their various look-off points?
Shall I transform my property into a version of Burning Man, where electronic music aficionados, unreconstructed hippies from bygone epochs and creatively mad artistes set fire to effigies of social inequity timed perfectly with the launch codes of distant rockets?
Yes, indeed, on some brilliant summer day, this decade or next, you might find me finishing my drink as I watch a spear of human ambition penetrate the afternoon clouds.
Meanwhile, my wife will have handed me the morning mail.
“What’s this?” I will ask.
She will reply: “It’s the new property tax assessment.”
Alec Bruce is a Halifax journalist who writes about business, politics and social issues.