By C. Thatcher Carter,
Published by The Times Record, 9 March 2022
‘Jonesport presented many unforeseen challenges, particularly when it came to the flow of accurate information,’ bluShift Aerospace CEO Sascha Deri said.
Brunswick rocket company bluShift Aerospace announced Tuesday it will no longer pursue a launch site in Jonesport. Instead, it wants to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“Jonesport presented many unforeseen challenges, particularly when it came to the flow of accurate information,” bluShift Aerospace CEO Sascha Deri said in a news release Tuesday. “The good news is that we learned a lot about what it will take to work in harmony with a Maine community, whether it be on the Downeast coast or in northern Maine. Even though Jonesport didn’t work out, we have already been contacted by town leaders in Northern Maine and other coastal communities inviting us to bring the opportunity to their town.”
In December 2021, Jonesport residents approved a six-month ban on commercial rocket launches after bluShift proposed plans for its roughly $2 million launch site that November.
The Times Record reported that local fishermen took issue, citing concerns that launches would interfere with fishing and that gear could become damaged or tangled with parachutes used to slow a rocket’s descent. At the time, Deri said the Jonesport location offered several advantages, primarily a south-facing trajectory that allows a rocket to reach polar orbit without flying over any private property.
In an interview Tuesday, Deri said that a successful launch to space and payload retrieval – which he hopes will happen at Kennedy Space by the end of the year – would qualify the company for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. Through this program, Deri said, researchers are funded to pay companies between $350,000 and $500,000 per payload.
After that, Deri said the company will reassess where to launch.
“My hope and desire is that we will be able to at that point do it from Maine,” Deri said.
BluShift Aerospace, which is headquartered at Brunswick Landing, made headlines in January 2021 for becoming the first company in Maine to launch a commercial rocket and the first in the world to launch a commercial rocket using bio-derived fuel.
Tuesday’s announcement comes shortly after the news last week that bluShift successfully tested its most recently developed rocket engine at Brunswick Landing.
The company has described its business model as the Uber of space, where it will target a specific customer who wishes to send a payload into a particular orbit.
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