By David Pendered
The proposal to build a spaceport in Camden County that would launch space vehicles over Cumberland Island has drawn support from a wide cadre of backers, including Georgia’s two senators, the entire House delegation, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Plans call for privately owned rockets to be launched from a site near the mouth of the Satilla River, soar at 30,000 feet over Cumberland Island, and continue toward and into space.
This group of influential supporters came together in the final weeks of the public comment period conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The public comment period closed June 14 on the Spaceport Camden Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The FAA is expected to issue a final EIS and Record of Decision in the coming months.
Letters of support were delivered by the following group of elected officials and a handful of coastal and commercial interests:
- Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue;
- All 14 members of Georgia’s House delegation;
- Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and member of the National Space Council Advisory Group;
- Richard Woods, Georgia’s school superintendent;
- The Associated County Commissioners of Georgia, an association of all 159 Georgia counties;
- The Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia;
- The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, a private spaceflight industry group that claims more than 80 members;
- Vector Space Systems, a commercial launch operator.
Camden County advocates of the project expressed enthusiasm at the depth and breadth of support among the state’s elected leadership and other organizations.
Steve Howard, Camden County’s administrator and project leaders on Spaceport Camden, said in a June 20 statement:
- “We’ve always said this is the right project at the right time. The support from elected officials, commercial space companies, and space policy advocates all reaches the same conclusion: The United States needs more launch capacity and Spaceport Camden is best suited to meet this demand. We appreciate the recognition that Spaceport Camden is an important part of our national space strategy.”
The FAA, in evaluating the spaceport’s environmental impact, acknowledges the spaceport would alter the pristine nature of the area – but contends the alternation would not be enough to warrant rejecting the project.
For example, the noise of a rocket launch could cause some listeners to become irritated when their moment of respite on Cumberland Island is interrupted, according to the statement.
Plans call for launching 12 rockets a year, and testing engines at full thrust by firing up the engine while keeping the rocket firmly attached to the ground. Each rocket could weigh up to 1.5 million pounds and stand up to 250 feet tall.
Here are a few comments from the letters of support:
Isakson and Perdue
- “By leveraging the Southeast’s dynamic high-technology industry and cutting edge research, Spaceport Camden will serve as a catalyst for continued American leadership in aerospace development and spaceflight technology.”
- “The Spaceport Camden project is extremely important to the economic future of coastal Georgia and marks the beginning of an excellent opportunity to leverage the research and expertise present in the region.”
“Georgia claims just 1/10th of 1 percent of the $330 billion global space economy, an economy projected to be worth $3 trillion in the next 30 years. Spaceport Camden is the catalyst Georgia needs to claim a share in this growing market.
The complete letters are available in the statement issued by Camden County and Camden Spaceport.