Maine has a brilliant future in space,’ NASA chief says during Brunswick visit
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson promoted Maine’s growing space industry as plans for the proposed Maine Space Complex get off the ground.
BY JASON CLAFFEY
The sky’s the limit for Maine’s growing space industry, NASA’s top official said Wednesday as he toured Brunswick Landing, which is being eyed as a hub for the future Maine Space Complex.
“Maine has a brilliant future in space,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “You’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs here who are ready to go and bubbling up with new ideas. It’s quite exciting.”
There are about 80 space-related businesses in the state, including Brunswick Landing’s bluShift Aerospace, which Nelson toured alongside Sen. Angus King, Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Sen. Mattie Daughtry (D-Brunswick).
BluShift was the first company in Maine to launch a commercial rocket and the first in the world to launch a commercial rocket powered by biofuel. The company has been testing its 50-foot Starless Rogue rocket, which will carry research sensors created by students from around the world to measure things like radiation, temperature and humidity. The rocket is expected to launch later this year or early next year, and Sascha Deri, the company’s founder, has said the sensor deliveries have the potential to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
Deri is also a member of the Maine Space Corporation board, which met for the first time Tuesday.
Daughtry last year sponsored a bill that created the corporation, a public-private entity charged with developing the Maine Space Complex, a planned collection of launch sites, research facilities and a data analytics center across the state. A research hub and a launch site are planned for Brunswick Landing.
“For every amazing advance that happens to take us to the stars, it benefits us so much better back down here on Earth,” Daughtry said. “The jobs, the education, getting businesses … to come here. It’s an absolute perfect opportunity for our state.”
Teledyne, which designs and manufactures sensors for the James Webb Space Telescope and the Mars Curiosity rover, recently built a satellite office in Brunswick Landing and is considering building a development laboratory for space projects in Maine.
“We see a lot of growth here in Maine,” said Jack Mills, Teledyne’s head of sales for the Americas. “It’s very exciting.”
Nelson said NASA has embraced commercial partnerships for initiatives like the Artemis program, expected to bring humans back to the moon in 2025.
“We find that’s cheaper and, in many cases, faster and better simply because of the creativity that’s found and the entrepreneurial spirit of the American business community,” Nelson said.
King said Nelson’s visit shows Maine’s new space industry is coming together.
“It gives us confidence we’re moving in the right direction to the stars,” King said.
Mills commended Daughtry for championing the creation of the space corporation.
“We’re excited about the potential for jobs and a boost not just to rockets but to our economy, thanks to these innovative ideas,” Mills said. “The space corporation is set up in order to do more research, pursue more research, bring some wonderful minds together, the best and the brightest, to put Maine on the map in all kinds of ways in this new area of space rocketry and space exploration.”