FAA Announces Environmental Study, Public Hearing Dates on Shiloh Launch Site

space_florida_logoThe FAA has detailed its plans to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed Shiloh spaceport in Florida. The notice last week in the Federal Register sets a pair of public hearings to be held in New Smyrna Beach and Titusville on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, respectively.

The following information about the Space Florida-led project and public hearings is extracted from the notice.

Project Overview

Space Florida, an independent special district and a subdivision of the State of Florida, proposes to construct and operate a commercial space launch site (the “Shiloh Launch Complex”) and two off-site operations support areas. The Shiloh Launch Complex would include two vertical launch facilities that would accommodate up to 24 launches per year (12 launches per vertical launch facility), as well as up to 24 static fire engine tests or wet dress rehearsals per year (12 static fire engine tests or wet dress rehearsals per vertical launch facility). The launch vehicles would include liquid fueled, medium- to heavy-lift class orbital and suborbital vehicles. In addition to the 24 launches per year, the first stage of the launch vehicle could return to and land at the Shiloh Launch Complex.

The proposed Shiloh Launch Complex would be constructed on approximately 200 acres of undeveloped land in the vicinity of a former citrus community known as Shiloh. Of the 200 acres, each vertical launch facility would require approximately 30 acres of fenced land.

In addition, as part of the Proposed Action, commercial launch operators using the Shiloh Launch Complex would construct and operate two off-site operations support areas in separate locations from the Shiloh Launch Complex. Each off-site operations support area would include a launch vehicle pre-integration processing facility, a payload processing facility, and a control center building. There are two proposed off-site operations support areas that are close to the Shiloh Launch Complex: the Oak Hill site and the South Volusia County site, both in Volusia County. The Oak Hill site is approximately 22 acres and the South Volusia County site is approximately 51 acres.

Proposed Alternatives

Based on comments received during the scoping period, the FAA may analyze additional alternatives. However, at this time, the alternatives under consideration include the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, the FAA would not issue a Launch Site Operator License to Space Florida.

Public Hearings

Two public scoping meetings will be held to solicit input from the public on potential issues that may need to be evaluated in the EIS. The first scoping meeting will be held on February 11, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the New Smyrna Beach High School Gymnasium, 1015 10th Street, New Smyrna Beach, Florida 32168. The second scoping meeting will be held on February 12, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Eastern Florida State College, Titusville Campus, John Henry Jones Gymnatorium, 1311 North U.S. 1, Titusville, Florida 32796. The meeting format will include an open-house workshop from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The FAA will provide an overview of the environmental process from 6:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. followed by a public comment period from 6:15 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The open-house workshop will consist of poster stations describing the proposed project and the NEPA process. The FAA and cooperating agency staff will be present during the open-house workshop portion of the meetings to answer general questions on the proposed project and the NEPA process.