An aerial shot of Steuben's coastline. Credit: Courtesy of the Town of Steuben

A Maine aerospace company that has been on the hunt for a place to launch rockets into orbit has found a home in a small Down East town.

BluShift Aerospace, a Brunswick-based company, announced Thursday that it has picked Steuben, a coastal fishing town on Route 1, to be the base of operations for its planned space complex. The company plans to build a mission control center and rocket manufacturing facility in the town and launch rockets off its shores.

The company had previously been eyeing Jonesport but had come up against local opposition.

“The aerospace industry is in desperate need of clean, sustainable solutions for launching to space, and I am thrilled that the town of Steuben has stepped up to partner with us,” said Sascha Deri, bluShift’s founder and CEO.

Steuben officials reached out to bluShift to see if they had an interest in moving to their town, about 30 minutes east of Ellsworth, after being rejected in Jonesport.

“The town of Steuben has the right geography, the right people, and the right attitude for this exciting opportunity,” said Larry Pinkham, a Select Board member.

Pinkham also said the town has been kicking itself for years after it turned down the Jackson Lab, the renowned research facility that’s now headquartered on Mount Desert Island.

“I’m pretty sure that the residents of Steuben didn’t want to make that kind of mistake again,” Pinkham said.

BluShift plans to launch small rockets Down East from a lift-boat with a mission control facility on the land. A liftboat is a large, flat boat with retractable posts that can be lowered to the ocean floor, lifting the vessel out of the water.

The company expects to launch four to six rockets, powered with non-toxic fuel, in the first few years it gets up and running. After that, there will be a maximum of 32 rockets launched annually, all being shot up at night between April and October.

Plans to build a rocket manufacturing facility in Steuben are also in the works. That could create an estimated 150 to 200 jobs in the next five to seven years.

BluShift and the town are working to find an ideal site for the control center, as well as meeting and housing facilities for future staff and customers.

The company’s mission is to create an “Earth-friendly rocket” that shows the world that it’s possible to launch small rockets without polluting the environment.

In that vein, bluShift partnered with University of Maine lobster scientist Robert Bayer to look at the potential effects of the biofuel on lobsters and the surrounding ecosystem.

Bayer said the lobsters basically ignored the fuel and it is harmless to the marine environment.