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The land of bark canoes and tamarack toboggans is Canada's rocket launch capital!


Churchill, Manitoba is one of the many cities in Canada with a big Indigenous population. Mostly Chippewa and Swampy Cree live there. They set up villages a long time ago where the city is today. Churchill is called the "Land of Nanuk" (the polar bear), and people living there sometimes still see polar bears walking down the streets! There are also beluga whales, seals, caribou and rare migrating birds that live there. It is a beautiful place and often visitors come to see the northern lights shine in the sky.

Because Churchill is in the north it is the perfect place to launch low orbiting satellites and scientific experiments. Between 1957 and 1985 Churchill was home to the Rocket Research Range. This was a project by Canada’s Research Council and NASA in the USA. For 25 years the rocket range was used thousands of times to launch research and tools.

Sounding rockets are used to carry out short experiments high in the sky, but not in space. They are launched along an arc-shaped path, which keeps the rocket high up for 5-20 minutes while the experiments are done.

The Rocket Range closed in 1985, but people still think about doing more tests there. One of them is called Project Skywalker, which would take an astronaut with it for the small experiments. There aren’t any rockets being launched at Churchill right now, but if we sent them up again it could help us understand outer space and our planet.

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