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Rocket company will stay in Maine, but its next launch will be from Florida

bluShift Aerospace
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BluShift Aerospace will launch its next rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The founder of Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace, Sascha Deri, said one of his biggest fears was that the announcement this week would make Mainers think the company was abandoning the state.

BluShift has announced it will stop seeking permission from the town of Jonesport to launch from an offshore island in town. The plan ran into much opposition, though Deri blamed some of that on "misconceptions and misunderstandings" about how much disruption launches would cause, especially to fishermen in the area.

The company is trying to build and launch its second, larger rocket on a suborbital flight into space this year, and turning to the Florida spaceport now makes that more likely. Deri says the Kennedy Space Center option emerged shortly after the company's first rocket launch in Limestone last year.

"It was actually the Kennedy Space Center that reached out to us two months after we launched Stardust, saying 'Hey, why don't you come down here,"' Deri said. He said they told space center officials then, "No no, we have our eyes firmly set on Maine."

Having a second, successful launch before year's end is important to the company. If it succeeds, it will qualify for a NASA program that gives grants to researchers to pay for launch services.

BluShift says it will continue it's search for a Maine launch site.

"[After Jonesport] we've had a couple of different communities reach out to us and asking us to consider their town, which is great," Deri said. In addition to coastal locations, Der said there may be opportunities to launch suborbital flights from far northern Maine as well.