An “Uber space” made here

A Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu company is preparing to launch the first Canadian rocket into orbit. It will also be the very first rocket to be launched into space from Canada thanks to a partnership with a Maritime company.

Posted at 6:30 am

Richard Dufour

Richard Dufour
The Press

Reaction Dynamics, whose ambitions eventually put it in competition with companies like SpaceX (by billionaire Elon Musk) and Rocket Lab (whose value is approximately 3.5 billion on the NASDAQ), should reveal Wednesday an agreement with Maritime Launch Services, a launch site in Nova Scotia.

This agreement allows Reaction Dynamics to become a supplier of rockets for customers wishing to send small satellites (average weight 170 kg) into space at “cheap cost”.

An initial test flight is scheduled for the end of the year and a sub-orbital demonstration flight of the Aurora rocket will follow in the middle of next year to validate the Quebec company’s technology. This demonstration flight in 2023 is shaping up to be the first launch from the Maritime Launch site in Nova Scotia.

Founded five years ago, Reaction Dynamics is a rocket manufacturer offering satellite launch services. “Our goal is to be a FedEx or an Uber for our customers,” said Bachar Elzein, founder, CEO and CTO of Reaction Dynamics.

“We want the satellites to get to very specific orbits and altitudes,” added Montrealer, who will be 33 years old next week.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, THE PRESS

Bachar Elzein, Founder, CEO and CTO of Reaction Dynamics

We use a propulsion system that is environmentally superior than our competitors, but is largely more affordable, and this is due to the simplicity of the propulsion system we have developed.

Bachar Elzein, Founder, CEO and CTO of Reaction Dynamics

“We want to prove that it works in flight and not just on the ground.»

Greener rockets

If Reaction Dynamics succeeds, the company could disrupt the orbit launch market.

Bashar Elzein is aiming for a first orbital flight “approximately two years” after conducting the demonstration flight. “So we are aiming for 2024,” said this former Polytechnique Montréal student.

Reaction Dynamics says its rockets will release, according to current tests, 50% fewer tons of CO.2 equal to competition. If the impact of launches remains marginal today, it could quickly become critical to sustain the environment while ensuring frequent launches, given the industry’s expected growth. With its technology, the company positions itself as one of the pioneers of sustainable access to space.

Listed on the stock exchange since last week, Maritime Launch will set up the launch pad near its headquarters in Canso, Nova Scotia, a small town located south of Cape Breton Island directly on the Atlantic Ocean.

The industry is growing, emphasizes Maritime Launch big boss, Steve Matier. “Many Canadian satellite developers want to take advantage of launch capabilities in the country, including the government. It’s all part of working with Reaction Dynamics,” he said in an interview.

The industry as a whole is already worth $ 400 billion. Canada has the opportunity to participate in this market.

Steve Matier, CEO of Maritime Launch

Bachar Elzein said he had letters of interest in his pocket worth nearly half a billion dollars from a dozen customers in Canada, the United States and Europe interested in conducting launches using a Reaction Dynamics rocket.

“Many of these customers do imaging and remote sensing, and putting satellites in orbit will allow them to generate data,” he said.

Bachar Elzein also said he had discussions with telecommunications operators.

He estimates the potential market for Reaction Dynamics at approximately 10,000 satellites over the next 7 years. “And this number is growing every week,” said the businessman of Lebanese origin.

Bachar Elzein is grateful to have so far relied on the support of private investors, Investissement Québec and the Canadian Space Agency.

He did not want to reveal how much funding the company may have received since it was founded, but as an example, he says, “a company that has reached the point where it makes and is able to qualify for orbital rocket engines, it usually takes between 50 and 100 million. We were able to do that 10 times less. »

On the brink of closing a round of financing, Reaction Dynamics now has a workforce of approximately thirty employees. The CEO expects the company to have one hundred employees in two years and a workforce of 2000 employees in 5 to 6 years.

“The market is there. Many of the customers we spoke to wanted to launch satellite fairly quickly. There is a great need for what we do. In order for us to maintain this opportunity and capture this market as soon as possible, we need to grow rapidly. »

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