Canada Concerned with Russian Rocket Launch

Canada is not happy with a Russian satellite launch that could potentially drop debris in the Baffin Bay between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

Russia is launching a UR-100N rocket that uses Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) fuel to deliver satellites to Earth’s orbit. According to environmentalists, UDMH is extremely toxic and technicians manipulating it have to wear pressurize hazmat suits.

Russian UR-100N Rocket
Russian UR-100N Rocket

According to Austin Jean, spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, Russia didn’t provide sufficient information in regards to the precautions taken for the Canadian airspace and environment.

“The Government of Canada has sought clarification from the Government of Russia regarding the lack of sufficient notification of this rocket launch,” Jean wrote in an email to CTV News.

“We have stressed to the Government of Russia the need for greater advance warning of planned launches to ensure that all precautions, relating both to the safety and security of our airspace and any potential environmental concerns, can be appropriately addressed,” he added.

However, the Russian Embassy in Ottawa confirmed the Canadian government was informed of the launch. Kirill Kalinin, press secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada, replied to Austin Jean’s comments stating the fuel would burn before reaching Canadian territorial waters.

“With regard to the inquired rocket launch, the Canadian side was informed it would be done in a way that no territory of Canada or its territorial waters would be affected while the fuel of disposed rocket stages fully burn out.”

The debris could land in the most biologically productive ecosystem north of the Arctic Circle and affect many species of animals and mammals. However, Austin Jean also expects the fuel to be completely burn upon re-entry and therefore expect minimal environmental risks.

Canada will host launch site for Ukrainian Rockets

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia will see a new rocket launch site near Canso and the construction is expected to start within one year.

Maritime Launch Servers, a company owned by three U.S.-based firms, will invest approximately $148 million in the project. The facility should be operational as early as 2020 and will launch Ukrainian Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket.

Ukrainian Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket
Ukrainian Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket

While Canada states it is concerned with Russian launches due to possible environmental consequences, the Ukrainian Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket also uses UDMH in its three stages.

Maritime Launch Services president Steve Matier believes that launching Ukrainian rockets is a solid market and states the Cyclone 4M rockets are the most reliable in operation nowadays.

According to Maritime Launch Services, the community and multiple levels of government supports the projects and could draw tourists.

By authorizing such a launch site, the Canadian government is openly stating that it will support an American-based company that launches Ukrainian rockets using the same toxic fuel they are heavily condemning from Russian launches.

Canada has been strongly supporting Ukraine since Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014, and have been boosting its economic ties. However, when the government is openly condemning a Russian launch due to possible environmental issues while allowing the construction of a launch site that will be used to launch satellite into orbit using the same fuel, it is pretty obvious that the Canadian government has double standards.



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Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.