A shot from the January launch of Stardust 1.0, bluShift Aerospace’s first rocket. Courtesy of bluShift Aerospace

The town of Jonesport voted Wednesday against an aerospace facility proposed by a Brunswick rocket company.

Plans for a launch site, mission control area and associated infrastructure were brought to the town by bluShift Aerospace, a company headquartered at Brunswick Landing that made headlines in January for becoming the first in Maine to launch a commercial rocket and the first in the world to launch a commercial rocket using bio-derived fuel.

The town voted in a special meeting to put a six-month moratorium on the proposal, 60-4 against. According to Harry Fish, a Jonesport selectman, the moratorium will give the town time to develop zoning regarding aerospace.

“I would say by the feeling of the town that the wording of the ordinance is going to be extremely prohibiting,” said Fish, adding that it will likely render the project impossible.

Primarily local fishermen are pushing back against the project, Fish said, due to concerns that it would interfere with fishing schedules and that gear could be damaged and tangled with parachutes coming down alongside rockets.

“Lobster fishing is the number one primary source of employment and earning income in this area,” said Fish. “They just feel that it’s just not compatible with their fishing.”

The company first approached the town about a month ago. The proposed location for the launch site is on an island, although the mission control facility would be closer to town. The cost of the project would be in the range of $1 million.

BluShift Aerospace has described its business model as the “Uber of Space,” where it will look to target a specific customer who wishes to send a payload into a particular orbit.

Sascha Deri, the CEO of the company, said that he is in full support of the moratorium and creating local rules to regulate aerospace. He said he hopes to work in harmony with the community and existing industries.

“There’s been fear from a lot of folks in the community that we’re just going to operate in a way that’s going to possibly endanger heritage industries here, and we don’t want to and we know we don’t understand everything about the community,” said Deri. “So, it gives ample time to work out together to figure out a way that we can work around the fishing and other industries which take advantage of the ocean’s resources.”

Brunswick is not being considered for a launch site due to the need for a 1.38-mile radius away from homes for safety, Deri said. Additionally, the land between Bar Harbor and Cutler is the only part of the coastline where the company could reliably get rockets into polar orbit without flying over people or property.

Deri said that after receiving feedback from locals, the proposed launch times were changed to avoid conflict with local fishing activities. The company would reimburse the cost of any lost lines, traps and revenue from rocket launches.

“We just need to have communication and dialogue with folks here, understand the concerns and figure out the solution,” said Deri.

The company expects the project would create 25 to 35 jobs over the next five years. The goal would be to launch 32 times a year, 10 years from now.

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