Christa McAuliffe, the first American civilian to go into space, once said that, “Space is for everybody. It’s not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and it’s everybody’s business to know about space.”
Given that the American space industry has shifted from strictly government-led projects to private industry missions to capitalize on, among other things, the deployment of lower cost small satellites, her words are perhaps more poignant than ever.
This morning, Dana Gartzke, Assistant Commerce Secretary, and Kevin O’Connell, Director of the Office of Space Commerce, were in Brunswick to announce a momentous federal funding award to the Maine Space Grant Consortium to develop a strategic plan to establish the Maine SpacePort Complex.
You know, in 2018, MTI worked with USM’s Dr. Terry Shehata and provided a $50,000 grant to the Maine Space Grant Consortium to conduct a feasibility – and market demand – study for a spaceport that would focus on the growing global nanosatellite market and become the foundation of a new space economic cluster, building on existing economic activity and attracting new companies to utilize its unique capabilities.
That study led to some widely supported state legislative deliberations this year seeking to establish the Maine SpacePort Complex Leadership Council.
Today’s exciting funding announcement from the EDA, along with a matching funds commitment from MTI, provides the necessary resources to establish a strategic plan for the Maine SpacePort Complex. Why Maine? Well, Maine – – with its existing infrastructure, geographic location, existing aerospace companies, and ability to safely facilitate polar orbits, is well-positioned to gain a meaningful share of the emerging and fast-growing nanosatellite market.
MTI is proud to support the Maine Space Grant Consortium in its efforts to establish the Maine SpacePort Complex and is eager to continue to assist Maine startups as they seek to capture a share of this extraordinary commercial market opportunity.
In another thrilling development, bluShift Aerospace plans to launch its Stardust 1.0 prototype rocket in late October from Loring Commerce Centre in Northern Maine. According to the company, “this low-altitude technology demo launch represents the culmination of six years of R&D, over two hundred engine tests, more than fifty stakeholder interviews, the successful completion of grants from NASA and the Maine Technology Institute, and the development of its novel, modular hybrid rocket engine powered by an Earth-friendly, bio-derived fuel – the MAREVL™.”
We are optimistic that the successful demonstration of bluShift’s Stardust 1.0 prototype will prove its commercialization capabilities and lead to greater growth for the company and the entire aerospace cluster in Maine.
Indeed, “space is for everybody” and the State if Maine is poised to capture a share of this large and emerging market that could, according to a study by USM, contribute $2.5 billion to Maine’s gross domestic product by 2040.
“That’s our new frontier out there,” Christa McAuliffe once said.” And, those words are truer than ever before, and MTI stands ready to help Maine organizations pursue opportunities in the new frontier to secure greater economic opportunities for Maine and its workers.