Spaceport Camden to Go Before Voters on March 8

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

The fate of Spaceport Camden in Georgia will be decided in a special election on March 8, The Current reports.

Opponents of the spaceport gathered the signatures of more than 10 percent of the county’s registered voters to put the issue to a vote. Probate Judge Robert C. Sweatt Jr. issued an order verifying the referendum after the court determined that 3,516 valid voter signatures had been submitted. The requirement was 3,482 valid signatures.

Voters will be asked whether they want to repeal resolutions passed by the Camden County Board of Commissioners authorizing the purchase of property from Union Carbide Corporation that will be used for the spaceport.

Camden County has spent about $10 million in its effort to build a spaceport where small-satellite boosters would be launched a dozen times per year.

Supporters say the spaceport will bright much needed investment and jobs to the county. Opponents have labeled the project as an expensive boondoggle. Rockets would also fly over Cumberland Island National Seashore, which is open to the public. Homeowners along the route also worry about rockets damaging or destroying their residences.

Video: Angry Astronaut Looks at the Environmental Obstacles SpaceX Faces Getting Starbase Approved

Editor’s Note: Not a bad analysis. He points out the questionable wisdom of launching the largest, most powerful rocket ever built from a base placed in the middle of a wildlife preserve with a number of endangered or threatened species.

However, he’s off in terms of some of his criticism. The FAA approval for 12 Falcon 9/Heavy launches annually included the right to test experimental vehicles at the site. Elon took that provision and drove Boosterzilla through it while abandoning plans for any Falcon 9 or Heavy launches from Boca Chica. Should the FAA has foreseen that? Maybe. Or just eliminated the provision for testing experimental vehicles?

As use of the facility changed, the FAA kept approving upgrades and expansion of the site even as the use completely changed. The agency finally chose an environmental assessment (EA) that SpaceX is writing over a much more rigorous and time consuming environmental impact statement (EIS). An EIS was done for the original approval; conservancy groups have been argument for another one given the significant changes in SpaceX’s plans. The wisdom of FAA’s decision to go with the less rigorous EA will likely end up being debated in court, delaying the project further.

FAA has dual mandate when it comes to commercial space: promote the industry while at the same time regulating it. The investigation into the SpaceShipTwo crash exposed that FAA was under political pressure to keep commercial space programs moving. Not just SpaceShipTwo but across the board. FAA knew the failure analysis for pilot error was deficient, but issued a waiver to allow the flight test program to continue. It was 15 months later that pilot error destroyed the ship.

So, I highly doubt that FAA’s delay had anything to do with accommodating SpaceX’s schedule, which is probably also delayed. An EA takes time to complete. The original Dec. 31 estimate was simply unrealistic. There were 18,000 comments to respond to in writing. FWS has serious concerns about endangered species that need to be addressed.

CNES Invites Micro and Mini Launch Operators to Apply to Operate From Guiana Space Center

Vega and Ariane 5 launch pads at Europe’s Spaceport. (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Monday, December 20, 2021, CNES launched a call for applications to host micro and mini-launchers at the Guiana Space Centre, thus expressing, in close collaboration with ESA, its desire to open the spaceport of the Europe to new operators. Applicants have until January 31, 2022 to submit their application.

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Superior Court Judge Temporarily Blocks Purchase of Land for Spaceport Camden

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

A Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing Camden County from purchases a 4,000 acres tract from Union Carbide to construct Spaceport Camden.

The order also scheduled an interlocutory hearing on a permanent restraining order for the purchase for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 5. Paul Harris and St. Marys council member James Goodman, who oppose the spaceport project as a waste of money, requested the restraining order on behalf of themselves and about 4,000 other county voters who signed a petition seeking a referendum on the purchase of the property.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued Spaceport Camden a site operator’s license Monday. But without the property the project is defunct.

The county’s option to buy the land from Union Carbide expires Jan. 13 unless it’s extended, as it has been previously. The probate court has 90 days from the filing of the signed petitions on Dec. 14 to vet the signatures and hold a special election. Petitioners are seeking to delay the purchase until the vote can take place.

The spaceport is being designed to support small satellite launch vehicles.

Camden County Officials Hail FAA Decision Granting Spaceport License

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

WOODBINE, Ga. (Camden County PR) — Camden County, Georgia, a rocket testing location and alternate launch site for the Apollo program, has reclaimed its aerospace heritage with the issuance of a launch site operator license (LSOL) by the Federal Aviation Administration for Spaceport Camden. Spaceport Camden is a multi-user, vertical lift, commercial launch site on the Atlantic seaboard that will support up to 12 small vehicle launches per year. 

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SELC: FAA’s Spaceport Camden Review Fraught with “Factual Mistakes and Legal Errors”

Spaceport Camden launch trajectories (Credit: Camden County)

ATLANTA, GA (SELC PR) — In response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement today to issue a record of decision on the license application for Spaceport Camden, the following statement is from Brian Gist, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center:

“Virtually from the start, the FAA’s review of Spaceport Camden has been fraught with factual mistakes and legal errors. We will carefully review the FAA’s decision to ensure that it fully complies with all applicable laws.”

The Launch Site Operator License is available here.

The Final EIS, ROD, and PA are available for download here.  

The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 170, including 90 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.  southernenvironment.org 

FAA Plays Santa to Camden County, Grinch to Island Homeowners with Controversial Georgia Spaceport License Award

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite strong opposition from local residents worried about safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded a spaceport license to the controversial Spaceport Camden project in Georgia on Monday. The decision will likely transform years of bitter public debate into years of bitter court battles over the project.

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Orbex Begins Construction of New Rocket Launchpad in the UK

Launch complex (Credit: Orbex)

FORRES, UK, December 9, 2021 (Orbex PR) – Orbex, Europe’s leading private small satellite launch services provider, has today announced it has started construction of its first state-of-the-art Launch Platform, the first orbital space launchpad to be built in the UK for more than half a century.

Orbex has commissioned Motive Offshore Group, a leading Scottish company specialising in the design and manufacture of marine and lifting equipment, to fabricate and install the Launch Platform at a dedicated test site near Kinloss, close to the Orbex headquarters in Forres, Scotland.

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Sweden Aims to Overhaul Space Law as Orbital Launches from Esrange Loom

MAXUS 9 launched at Esrange Space Center. (Credit: SSC)

STOCKHOLM, November 23, 2021 (Swedish Government PR) — Today, the Space Act Inquiry has submitted its report A new space law to Matilda Ernkrans, Minister with responsibility for space issues. The inquiry proposes a new space law that takes into account international regulations, promotes Swedish space operations and ensures national security needs.

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Esrange Moves Closer to Satellite Launch Capability

(Swedish Space Corporation PR) — The construction of the new spaceport at Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden is reaching new milestones – heading towards satellite launch capability by 2022. The orbital launch complex is currently being finalized with integration halls for rockets and satellites, expansion of planned fuel plants, launch pads and surrounding technical ground systems, and more.

“With more than 50 years of experience from launching rockets and balloons, Esrange Space Center is already one of the most active and versatile launch sites in the world. And with the new spaceport capability the base will be able provide a platform for space companies to develop their next generation rocket technologies and launch their satellites”, says Philip Påhlsson, Project Manager of New Esrange.

Esrange Space Center – the future of European spaceflight.

FAA Invites Public Input on Draft Environmental Review to Operate Huntsville International Airport as Commercial Space Reentry Site

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) invites the public to comment on a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for Huntsville International Airport (HSV) to serve as a reentry site for horizontally landed commercial reentry vehicles. The Draft EA also addresses a proposal by Sierra Space Corporation to land its Dream Chaser vehicle at the site up to eight times between 2023 and 2027. 

The FAA plans to hold a virtual public hearing for the draft review on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. Central Time as part of the 40-day public comment period that ends on Dec. 22. Public comments can also be submitted to HuntsvilleReentry@icf.com.

The Huntsville-Madison Airport Authority is seeking a Reentry Site Operator License and Sierra Space is seeking a Vehicle Operator License. The draft review is part of both licensing processes. It evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the proposed reentry operations, including associated airspace closures. 

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Green Light Given for Satellite Launch Base at Andoya in Norway

Sounding rocket launch at Andoya. (Credit; Norwegian Space Agency)

OSLO, Norway (Norwegian Space Agency PR) — Andoya Space is to receive 365.6 million Norwegian kroner [US $43.4 million] from the Norwegian government to establish a launch base for small satellites at Andoya in Northern Norway. 

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Skyrora Signs Decade-long, Multi-launch Deal with Shetland Spaceport

Skyrora XL lifts off the launch pad. (Credit: Skyrora)

EDINBURGH, 12th October 2021 (Skyrora PR) — British rocket company Skyrora has agreed a multi-launch deal with the SaxaVord spaceport on Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands, as it moves closer to launching its XL rocket in 2022. This is the first agreement Skyrora has made with a Scottish Spaceport. If successful, this could be the first rocket to go to space from the UK. The multi-launch agreement with SaxaVord will run for the next decade, giving Skyrora the ability to build towards their target of 16 launches a year by 2030. 

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SSC Invests to Finalize Spaceport Esrange – First Satellite to be Launched in 2022

MAXUS 9 launched at Esrange Space Center. (Credit: SSC)

SOLNA, Sweden (SSC PR) — Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) have signed a EUR 12 million [US $13.9 million] loan agreement for the finalization of a new spaceport at Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, northern Sweden. The 12-year maturity loan will finance the investments to unlock the use of reusable rockets and the ability to launch small satellites into orbit as early as 2022, making Esrange the first major orbital launch site in the EU.

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Maritime Launch Services Chooses Local Firms to Design and Construct Canso Launch Facility

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, May 26, 2021 (Martime Launch Services PR) – Maritime Launch Services Ltd. (“MLS” or the “Company”), owner of Canada’s first commercial spaceport, is pleased to announce that it has selected a number of Nova Scotian firms to advance design and preparations for construction of the launch complex located near Canso, Nova Scotia.

“We have selected a number of local firms across Nova Scotia to support Maritime Launch in building a state-of-the-art, world-class launch complex,” said Stephen Matier, President and CEO of MLS. “With initial financing in hand, we have begun hiring members of our executive leadership team and we are accelerating work so we can break ground on construction of the complex in the fall.” The preparation efforts include work for Strum Consulting, Stantec, Lloyd’s Register, Nova Construction, Lindsay Construction Management, St. Francis Xavier University, and others.

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