Georgia Spaceport Effort Advances

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Camden_County_JDAA couple of pieces of news from Georgia, where Camden County officials last month commissioned an environmental impact statement for the site of a proposed coastal spaceport and also visited the state capital to promote the project.

County administrator Steve Howard told the board that, after much dialogue, the property owners of the proposed spaceport site off Interstate 95 Exit 7 finalized a confidentiality agreement this week. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which costs $745,000, was approved by the board of commissioners and includes many steps with private companies, the Federal Aviation Administration and a private EIS consultant assigned to Camden’s officials.

Howard said the next step will be face-to-face meetings with the property owners and state officials. He also said that after the EIS is close to completion, starting a website on the project would help put the 4,000-acre site on the radar of space officials….

Howard also read from a news article that said Orlando, Fla., which is also interested in constructing a spaceport, anticipates that if two launch sites are constructed, 2,500 jobs will be created and there will be an economic impact of about $250 million. Howard explained that Camden County is also exploring the possibility of housing two launch sites and hope that if successful, the area will see similar positive economic impacts.

Howard reminded the board and the audience that the spaceport project is nowhere near to being a done deal, seeing as how the EIS component of the project can take about 24 months and other negotiations and legalities could stretch progress out even further.

On Tuesday, Camden county officials and business leaders visited Atlanta to promote the spaceport project.

Sporting grins and Starfleet name tags with the slogan “Live long and prosper,” 20 business and community leaders from Camden County lobbied Tuesday for Georgia to become the home to a commercial space port.

They may have seemed a little spacey if lawmakers had not had breakfast that morning with a completely different group of executives from some of the state’s 838 aerospace companies that provide 85,000 jobs. Neither group knew of the other’s plans, which may illustrate how big Georgia’s $50 billion aerospace industry is.

While that includes giants like Gulfstream Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and Delta Air Lines, it also includes start-ups like Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services that seeks to launch small, commercial satellites from airplanes starting in 2016. It helps that Georgia Tech produces more aerospace engineers than any school in the country….

The Camden County leaders say the salt marshes on the Southeast Georgia coast offer another asset to the industry as a commercial space port by being sparsely populated and near the ocean. They say they’ve received strong interest from SpaceX, a 12-year-old company that’s already launched three commercial rockets, delivering cargo to the International Space Station.

SpaceX seems almost certain to build its commercial spaceport on the Gulf Coast near Brownsville, Texas.  The only issue that would likely derail that effort is a negative environmental impact statement, which the FAA is now finalizing. Local and state officials are on board with a package of incentives for SpaceX.

Thus, it’s not entirely clear which other companies Camden County officials have in mind to attract to the spaceport.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Everybody wants a spaceport. How’s that working out just now for New Mexico? We obviously need a few spaceports, but how many do we realistically need?

  • Jason

    As many as the market dictates.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    A true, if simplistic answer. Unfortunately, “the market” doesn’t want to pay for building the infrastructure.

  • Stuart

    Building a spaceport is at the moment a bit like building train stations without a rail network or indeed anything other than the original Stephenson’s Rocket” steam locomotive available.

    For some as with train stations building a spaceport will pay off but for some it could well bankrupt them.