Despite the current setback, supporters of a spaceport in Georgia are optimistic

Adam

Despite yet another setback in the environmental evaluation process, supporters of a planned Georgia launch facility remain hopeful that they would gain authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration.

On March 5, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation notified stakeholders involved in the ongoing evaluation of Spaceport Camden in Camden County, Georgia, that a final draft of an environmental effect statement (EIS) would not be finished this month as previously expected. The agency stated that it required additional time to complete consultations with two Georgia state historical preservation offices. According to the FAA, the final draft of the EIS will be published on April 20. By June 18, the spaceport would have received a formal “record of judgment” on its request for an FAA deployment suite operator’s license.

Because of the delay, the final draft of the environmental impact study will be released over three years after the draft version was released in March 2018. There were no apparent environmental concerns in the draft version that could not be combated in any way. The planned spaceport, which would be built on the ground of the long-defunct Thiokol rocket motor plant, has sparked outrage among environmentalists and residents of neighboring Cumberland Island, who fear property loss and damage to a national shoreline in the case of a launch crash. The US Navy is also concerned about potential threats to the adjacent Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

Originally intended for small to the medium-sized launch vehicles, the spaceport amended its FAA license submission in December 2019 to concentrate exclusively on small launch vehicles. This reform necessitated a complete rewrite of the environmental impact study. Despite the setbacks and opposition, proponents of the spaceport remain optimistic that it will be approved eventually. In an online presentation to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on March 8, Steve Howard, who serves as the commissioner of Camden County, stated, “It will be the most checked spaceport possibly of all time.” “That’s excellent. The importance of due diligence cannot be overstated.”

“We’re going to look forward to the completion of the environmental effect statement”, he stated, claiming that other launch facilities such as the Kennedy Space Center situated in Florida and the Wallops Flight Facility which is situated in Virginia, have shown that launch sites, as well as nature preserves, can be able to coexist. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the setting. It’s a win-win situation.” In his presentation, Howard made little mention of the environmental assessment, instead of focusing on the economic potential that the spaceport, he said, provided to the area. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.” He clarified, “We’re in the right spot at the right moment.”

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