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bluShift Aerospace picks Steuben to build sustainable space complex

BluShift Aerospace has plans to build a manufacturing facility, lift-boat, and mission control facility. Town officials anticipate that it will bring new jobs.

STEUBEN, Maine — Maine-based company bluShift Aerospace announced plans Wednesday to build a sustainable space complex in Steuben.

In a release, the company said the small fishing village east of Ellsworth is suitable for an off-shore launch site, which is important because bluShift’s launch model now allows rockets to be propelled to space off a lift-boat, a large flat boat with long retractable legs that can be lowered to the ocean floor.

In addition to a manufacturing facility and the lift-boat, a mission control facility will be situated with clear sightlines to the lift-boat so guests and customers can watch the launches, according to bluShift.

“It is from this small Maine town that we hope to build and launch small suborbital and orbital rockets and prove to the world that the aerospace industry can be Earth-friendly and Earth-responsible," bluShift CEO Sascha Deri said in the release.

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Steuben Board of Selectmen Chair Larry Pinkham noted in Wednesday's release that the town had been eager to apply for consideration after the neighboring community of Jonesport rejected the opportunity. 

“The town of Steuben has the right geography, the right people, and the right attitude for this exciting opportunity,” Pinkham said. “We could not be more pleased to partner with bluShift Aerospace and to join the NewSpace race.”

“Many years ago, this town turned down the opportunity to host a little research operation called Jackson Lab," he added. "I’m pretty sure that the residents of the Steuben didn’t want to make that kind of mistake again."

The release from bluShift stated there's a potential for 150 to 200 new jobs at the complex in the next five to seven years.

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Deri said the demand for fast, reliable, clean launch services is growing quickly. 

“BluShift has a competitive advantage because we offer small satellite customers much more frequent and flexible launch times using a proprietary nontoxic, bio-derived fuel, a standout in an industry that is reliant on fossil fuels," Deri said.

Deri said she expects a thorough analysis and approval process with Steuben’s Codes Enforcement Office and Board of Selectmen over the next several months. BluShift also expects to conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Study as part of an FAA approval process, according to Wednesday's release.

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