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Cape Breton Enters Space Race 55

thatguywhoiam writes "A private deal has been put into place to construct a large space facility in Cape Breton. The Toronto Star says '...that Nova Scotia has signed a "team agreement" to provide 300 acres of land — and perhaps even some funding — for a massive orbital launch facility that will involve industry giants and could eventually be on scale with huge NASA operations. "We're basically building a private manned space program for Canada," says Chicago's Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, chairman of the PlanetSpace firm that lit the fuse for this deal. "The facility will see orbital flights, similar to the Kennedy Space Center."'"
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Cape Breton Enters Space Race

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  • by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:30PM (#15924004) Homepage Journal
    I am pleased by the massive growth of spaceport proposals lately. If all of the proposals come to fruition (which is unlikely) there will be as many spaceports as there are major airline hubs today.


    I hope that the Canadian government doesn't present too many miles of red tape. Won't there be negative impact to launching from a high latitude? I know that other spaceports [space.com] boast about how close to the equator they are.


    The biggest difference between this facility and other proposals is the larger scope of this project. Instead of $20mil a shot tourists, the Canadians are playing catch up with the Americans, Russians, Europeans, etc. to have a real non-commercial space program. From TFA:

    Earlier this year, the pair began negotiations with the province and other players in the aerospace industry to build a facility and spacecraft they hope will eventually shuttle astronauts and supplies to the international space station.
    • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:45PM (#15924055) Homepage Journal
      I hope that the Canadian government doesn't present too many miles of red tape. Won't there be negative impact to launching from a high latitude? I know that other spaceports boast about how close to the equator they are.

      There is both a pro and a con to launching from the higher latitude.

      Con: It takes more energy (fuel) to get to orbit as you have less of a "push" from the earth's rotation to help you get to orbital velocity.

      Pro: If your destination is in a relatively highly inclined orbit (as the International Space Station is), you use less energy (fuel) changing your orbital inclination compared to starting from the equator.

      As you quoted, it is intended to supply the ISS. A higher inclination than Canaveral would be beneficial. However, for anything beyond (such as the moon), a more equatorial launching pad would be better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Curtman ( 556920 )
        It's too bad we let Fort Churchill [wikipedia.org] rust away. A few years ago it was claimed to be one of the best sites for launching missions to ISS, and there's very few people around if things go wrong.
      • The reason that they decided to put the launch facility in Cape breton is because it is on the same latitude as a successful Russian launch facility. They announced it on a news report yesterday. Also the government has given its blessing for this.
        • The USSR chose the location for the Baikonur Cosmodrome for the same reason the USA chose the location for the Kennedy Space Center... it's flat and it's about as close to the equator as you can get while still being within your territory. Had they known that it would end up in another country (Kazakhstan), they would have put it at a southernmost point within the boundaries of Russia. The closer you are to the equator, the more efficient your launches are.

          The orbit of the ISS was chosen based on the latitu
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Why this is modded informative? It's almost completely wrong!

        A high latitude is completely non-influential for a launch to the moon, but suffers from a high penalty for launching to any orbit with an inclination lower than the latitude.

        OTOH there are almost no benefits at all for a launch to a high inclination orbit wrt a spaceport near the equator.

        IOW: if you want to reach orbit, you should launch from a site that has a latidute less than or equal to the inclination of your orbit.

    • by Dinosaur Neil ( 86204 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:14PM (#15924214)

      Won't there be negative impact to launching from a high latitude?

      There is an impact, though how much of one depends on what sort of orbit you're shooting for. The ISS is in low earth orbit, so you need around 8000 meters/second for a nice circular orbit at that altitude. Launching into an equitorial orbit from the equator gives you a 460 m/s start on that. By the time you reach Nova Scotia, you're down to 320 m/s boost. OTOH, the empty mass to fueled mass ratio is a log function (IIRC), so that 140 m/s can make a difference. However, a pole-to-pole orbit doesn't take advantage of Earth's spin at all, so it doesn't matter what latitude you launch from.

      Why is it that the only use I get out of my graduate level orbital mechanics course is on Slashdot?

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      A "real, noncommercial" space program is something of an oxymoron. The problem is that the market for government funded science and technology just doesn't scale well. Once you have a few programs going, that exhausts the political interest and capital. All work must be funded. Governments routinely abandon years of work. But when you can make a profit, then that funds additional activity. You no longer need an external source. The only truth growth is through commercial activity IMHO. That's why I think an
  • by Dutch_Cap ( 532453 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:39PM (#15924024)
    Well, it's aboot time!
  • If it's anywhere near this place [redshoepub.com], it should be very popular. If you're ever in Mabou [mabou.ca], be sure and stop in.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    WTF
  • I've been to Nova Scotia several times. Am I correct in stating that the job market is pretty poor in the Maritimes? Do you think this will help the local Nova Scotia economy greatly, not much, or not at all?
    • by xtal ( 49134 )
      The employment rate is over 20% here, and there is almost nobody in the 18-30 age bracket.

      This area was decimated by the loss of the steel industry and coal mines over the last 35 years.

      Again.. I have no idea what to make of this announcement.
    • I do not think this thing will ever fly. Our governments, provincial and municipal, have a long and rich history of being duped out of cash by any well-dressed, silver-tongued carpetbagger who passes through town with a zany scheme. I will believe it when I see it.
      • I could see Cape Breton being the site of a major launch facility. I always figured that the Maritimes would have a high-tech boom sooner or later, and other provinces already have other areas of science and technology nailed down. With the low employment rate, lots of highly educated people, and a government that isn't tied to legacy industries, the Maritimes are bubbling over with potential.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:35PM (#15924318)
    This would be great, but there is NO infrastructure here to support this kind of endeavour. There is no city here. There is little university support, with the nearest school granting engineering degrees over 4 hours away. The airport service is limited, there isn't even a double divided highway from the nearest major center.

    Amazing, shocking news if it were to happen. I just can't see it.
    • Monorail, monorail, monorail! :D
      • First.. a spaceport! Then I shall take over the worrrrld!
        • LMAO! Imagine the launch turnout. It will bring nothing but the finest people, it will, wearing their Sunday best! A festive mood will fill the air, beer tents running for miles, and all those *pretty* penants and streamers, fluttering in the wind. Melees and donnybrooks, before, during, and after each launch! It brings a tear to this Cape Bretoner's eye it does...
    • I'm somewhat dumbfounded too. My mother's side of the family comes from a small fishing village near Halifax. I've visited Cape Breton from time to time. The scenery is so spectacular and pristine. I worry about the ecological damage from rockets.

      As far as support, I'm sure detractors said the same thing about some swamp land in Florida.

    • by Smilodon ( 66992 )
      Sounds like Cape Canaveral when the space program first arrived...

      Well, ok, they had a military presence, but Cape Breton has a cruise port!
    • Right...and I bet because of the points you made, land values aren't very high. 300 acres amounts to chump change. I guess they figured as long as they aren't using the land, they might as well look good while getting it off their hands. The only thing this place has going for it is a similar latitude to Baikanor, where the Russians launch their rockets from. Along the same vein, I've got a microwave I don't use anymore. Are there any universities that might want it for electromagnetics research?

      As you h
    • Either that, or your in for the biggest boom-town rush since 1849. If it does come about, let us know how it goes.
  • One reason why NASA put its launch facility at Cape Canaveral (and the missile range at Vandberg AFB) is that it is usually advantageous to launch as close to the equator as possible. Because the Earth's rotation, being at the equator means you have a greater starting velocity than if you launched from, say, the north pole. The rotation of the Earth, in radians per second, is the same for everyone, but your tangential velocity increases the farther you get from the axis of rotation. (It's easier to draw
    • Yes, but having a launch facility in a location which doesn't get thrashed by hurricanes every year might be nice, too.
      • ..no, but instead your launch window is basically eliminated by 1/4 the year. You'd have a hell of a time finding a suitable launch date anywhere from Dec - April in Cape Breton, or anywhere else in the maritimes for that matter. The weather around here in winter is totall yunpredictable, they can forecast for sunny days on Monday for Wednesday, and when Wednesday gets here, it's a huge blizzard.

        I mean, it snows every 3-4 days. It's hard to schedule a luanch in weather like that , having to de-ice constantl
      • Certainly, NASA has a hurricane disadvantage at Cape Canaveral, but the ESA location in French Guiana shouldn't have that problem. South America rarely gets hit by hurricanes. In fact, the Canadian maritimes probably sustain more hits from tropical systems (well, they might be extratropical by that point... but they still pack a whallop) than French Guiana.
    • Wonder if this means they're going back to the Gerald Bull [wikipedia.org] type of space cannon for launching...
      • It would be exactly the same. Think of the cannon spinning around a ball at the equator; the explosive force is added to the initial velocity of the actual cannon itself.
    • by Teancum ( 67324 )
      I think you have your figures wrong for Vandenburg AFB. The main reason for its location is that the only significant hunk of real estate south of there is Antarctica (OK, the Easter Islands, but I digress). That makes polar orbits something very useful, and dangerous to do at Cape Canaveral. Sending spacecraft into equitorial orbits from Vandenburg would either have to be retrograte (where you are fighting the spin of the Earth instead of using it as a boost) or launching over significant populations, i
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      That is perfectly true if all you want to do is get into orbit. If you want to get to the International Space Station, however, in it's highly inclined orbit that passes over Canada and Russia, then starting at a higher latitude isn't such a loss.
  • Somebody might want to let these guys know they're at Latitude 46N [google.com], which means they have a tangential velocity of 720ft/s, or just over half of Cape Canaveral's. But hey, it's their fuel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Noishe ( 829350 )
      Actually, the tangential velocity relative to the axis is a function of cosine. So your velocity at 46 degrees is cos(46) of what it is at the equator.

      cos(46) is 0.69465837045899728665640629942269, so the post above you is correct, when it mentions that the speed is aprox 70%, and you are wrong, when you say it is half.

      Of course, energy is a function of the square of speed, 1/2 * mv^2 , so to make up for the resultant loss in speed, you'd have to spend 1/v^2 more energy, which is 2.0723230307791953476036712
      • by imbezol ( 588268 )
        You mean you were too lazy to figure out the math and your calculator likes decimals. :)
      • I did, in fact, use the cosine, but I must have fat fingered something in the calculator to come up with ~700ft/sec. At any rate (no pun intended), the fact remains that it is a significantly less efficient launch site.
    • Small beans. The difference works out to about 300Km/h. Compare that with typical orbital velocities of 10-20,000Km/h for low orbit (of course, it depends on altitude).

      Every little bit helps, but not that much.

  • Honestly, this is a good thing. The more and more we compete to accomplish exploration feats, the better! I personaly would like to see us personally travel to other planets before I die.
  • Since when is 300 acres "massive"? Kennedy Space Center is 219 square miles -- nearly 500 times larger. Granted, most of that land is a wild-life refuge, but the developed area is still around 1500 acres. And that doesn't count the Air Force base where there are some more launch facilities.
  • What the fuck are they going to do with 300 acres? Build a Wal-Mart? That's less then half a square mile. Massive orbital launch facility, my ass.
  • Eastern Canada is known for having friendlier people, but living several km from Cape Breton, I have to say: hick meet egghead - it should be an interesting development. Reality TV anyone?

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