A “space Uber” made here

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

Posted at 06.30

Richard Dufour

Richard Dufour
The press

Reaction Dynamics, whose ambitions ultimately position itself in competition with companies such as SpaceX (by billionaire Elon Musk) and Rocket Lab (whose value is about 3.5 billion on NASDAQ), will on Wednesday unveil an agreement with Maritime Launch Services, a website launch and Nova Scotia.

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

A first 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 promises to be the first launch ever from the Maritime Launch site in Nova Scotia.

Reaction Dynamics was founded five years ago and 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 be able to go to very specific orbits and heights,” adds Montrealer, who turns 33 next week.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, PRESSEN

Bachar Elzein, Founder, CEO and CTO of Reaction Dynamics

We use a propulsion system that is environmentally superior to our competitors, but above all more affordable, and that is due to the simplicity of the propulsion system that 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 performing the demonstration flight. “So we are aiming for 2024,” says this former Polytechnique Montréal student.

Reaction Dynamics claims that according to current tests, its rockets will emit 50% less tons of CO22 corresponding to the competition. If the impact of launches remains marginal today, it can quickly become crucial to preserve the environment while ensuring frequent launches, given the expected growth in the industry. With its technology, the company positions itself as one of the pioneers in the field of sustainable access to space.

Maritime Launch, which has been listed on the stock exchange since last week, 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 the great head of Maritime Launch, Steve Matier. “Many Canadian satellite developers want to take advantage of launch opportunities in the country, including the government. It’s all part of the work of Reaction Dynamics,” he said in an interview.

The industry as a whole is already valued at $ 400 billion. Canada has the opportunity to take part in this market.

Steve Matier, CEO of Maritime Launch

Bachar Elzein says he has in his pocket interest-bearing letters worth close to half a billion dollars from a dozen customers in Canada, the United States and Europe who are interested in making launches with a Reaction Dynamics rocket.

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

Bachar Elzein also says he has discussions with telecom operators.

He estimates the potential market for Reaction Dynamics to be around 10,000 satellites over the next 7 years. “And this number is growing every week,” says the entrepreneur with Lebanese roots.

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

He does not want to reveal how much funding the company may have received since its inception, but as an example, he says, “a company that reaches where it is able to develop and qualify orbital rocket engines usually takes it between 1 p.m. 50 and 100 million. We managed to do that for 10 times less. »

On the verge of closing a funding round, Reaction Dynamics now has a workforce of around thirty employees. The CEO hopes the company will have one hundred employees within two years and a workforce of 2,000 employees within 5 to 6 years.

“The market is there. Many of the customers we talk to want to launch a satellite relatively quickly. There is a huge demand for what we do. In order for us to retain this opportunity and conquer this market as quickly as possible, we need to make progress quickly. ”

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