BRUNSWICK — Brunswick Landing could be the future base for explorations of the final frontier from Maine.

Mechanical Engineer Brook Halvorson holds a 3d printed CubeSat at BluShift Aerospace in Brunswick in July. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / The Portland Press Herald

According to Terry Shehata, director of the Maine Space Grant Consortium, with its existing infrastructure, central location and proximity to other aerospace businesses, the former military base is the ideal spot for a “New Space industry meeting place and new business incubator and accelerator.” 

The hub is intended as one of three branches of a future Maine Spaceport Complex. The other branches include a Maine Space Data and Advanced Analytics Center of Excellence, and two coast launch sites; one at the Limestone Commerce Center and another in Washington County. 

In Brunswick, the facility would help facilitate research and development, improve innovation, develop new capabilities across industries and engage tourists and the public through programming and planetarium entertainment; a sort of “mission control,” according to Shehata. It is not intended as a rocket launch site. 

A new bill, LD 2092, would establish a leadership council to help develop the spaceport. 

“Maine’s involvement in space exploration and space technology development has been growing in recent years,” Shehata said in testimony supporting the bill. “This growth is real, and we want to take advantage of this fact to advance a new space economy that would support Maine’s economic prosperity.” 


With Maine’s low population density, existing infrastructure, expansive coastline and growing aerospace-related businesses (including bluShift, a Brunswick Landing-based company developing biofuel-powered rockets), the question shifted from “Why Maine?” to “Why not Maine?” Shehata said in an interview. 

He and other supporters believe Maine is poised to advance a new space economy in space exploration and space technology development. The state’s longitude and latitude offers direct and near-polar orbit access for full Earth coverage as the Earth rotates.

Sascha Deri, owner of bluShift, said this summer that, Maine’s coastline, which faces due-South, is uniquely suited for inexpensive rocket launching without the risk of hitting anything until about the Dominican Republic, at which point a rocket would be either in space or in the ocean.

That makes the state an ideal place to launch cube satellites, also called CubeSats, which are small nanosatellites roughly half the size of a loaf of bread, weighing under three pounds, that are usually packed with commercial, off-the-shelf components for their electronics and structure, Shehata said. CubeSats in Maine would be launched in rockets roughly 15 to 55 feet in length and 3 feet in diameter. 

These satellites offer opportunities for K-12 education, as well as advancements in agricultural, marine and forestry monitoring, communications, earth observation, community planning, land use monitoring and natural resource management, he said. 

“The market value of nanosatellites … is projected to reach $9.5 billion by 2030 largely due to their use in a broad range of commercial applications in all regions of the world,” Shehata said in his testimony. Creating the spaceport in Maine would be “a leap of faith vision to advance the state’s economic growth and workforce development,” he added  


With the help of the University of Southern Maine, the Space Grant Consortium launched a study, funded by the Maine Technology Institute and NASA, to determine the market feasibility of the program.

“We didn’t want a, ‘if we build it, they will come,’ kind of approach, we wanted to know the demand,” he said. 

According to a study by the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine, “a new space economy in Maine could contribute between $50 million to $2.5 billion per year to the state GDP by 2040 and provide between 3,400 and 6,700 good-paying jobs annually by 2040 while providing a significant source of tax revenues across the state.” 

Early estimates suggest ground-up construction could cost between $100 million and $250 million for five years from private and public sectors, but Shehata said that with Brunswick Landing and the commerce center’s existing infrastructure, it would likely be significantly lower. 

Shehata thinks the time to act is now, as competitors from Halifax, Nova Scotia and Michigan also eye polar launch programs. 

“We have a five-year window of opportunity before we lose our advantage,” he said.


According to Kristine Logan, deputy director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the agency that oversees redevelopment at the former base, the aerospace industry fits in perfectly with the authority’s master reuse plan. 

The landing’s operation/mission control facility, secured classified information facility, technology business incubator (TechPlace), airport, islanded microgrid and broadband “all make is uniquely qualified to support and incorporate the developing spaceport mission,” she said in testimony. 

The spaceport project “brings together numerous bright minds, public and private entities in the aerospace industry, and our local, state, and federal governments to discuss how Maine can become a big player in the emerging nanosatellite industry and be the driver behind new aerospace technology,” she said.

This story has been updated to include testimony from Kristine Logan, deputy director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.

Comments are not available on this story.