If you ask Canadians to name a national achievement that's not related to hockey or pop music, most can't. But those who can consistently point to the Canadarm, the mechanical arm on the International Space Station.
Looks like that roaring success has encouraged Canada to think big–and for once, we're not talking big government. Nova Scotia has signed an agreement to hand over 300 acres for the building of a private spaceport, with the first launch anticipated by 2010, reports the Toronto Star.
Canadian business development executive Mark James said of the decision:
"Space has always been handled by government and by military, and there's countless examples around the world where lack of competition stifles moving forward. With the mantle being passed off to the private sector, I think a number of companies are going to be hugely successful. And we want to work with one of the winners."
Apparently, Canada's northern latitude is actually an advantage. Cape Breton, where the spaceport will be built, is sits on the same parallel with the Russian launch facility, which means it will take less fuel for the Canucks to get up to the International Space Station to visit their beloved Canadarm.