George Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation in support of a spaceport in Camden County.
The Georgia Space Flight Act, which the General Assembly passed overwhelmingly in March, will give operators of a planned commercial spaceport in Camden County, Ga., the same liability protections that already exist in states competing with Georgia to host commercial rocket launches. House Bill 1 sets a strict legal standard for a plaintiff, likely a space tourist, injured while riding in a spacecraft to collect damages in a lawsuit.
“Commercial space flight is the next great space race,” said Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden project leader Steve Howard, who attended Monday’s bill-signing ceremony. “It is a $320 billion industry that offers tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. By signing this legislation today, Gov. Deal is sending a message to the global space industry that we are open for business.”
Camden County is working closely with Arizona-based Vector, a small satellite launch company founded by veterans of SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch. Vector, which is planning to conduct a test launch of a suborbital rocket at Camden as early as this summer, launched its first test rocket last week in California’s Mojave Desert.
“The signing of [House Bill] 1 not only represents the huge strides taken in developing space flight legislation,” said Jim Cantrell, Vector’s co-founder and CEO. “[It] also demonstrates the viability of Spaceport Camden to support Vector’s goal of developing hundreds of launches a year.
ARGYLL, Scotland (Discover Space UK PR) — Leading UK Space science and technology firms QinetiQ and Telespazio VEGA UK have agreed Memorandum’s of Understanding (MoU) to work with Discover Space UK on investigating the potential for a horizontal launch spaceport at the Campbeltown site on the West Coast of Scotland.
Political wrangling over Brexit — Britain’s decision to leave the European Union — has caused a delay in planned commercial spaceport legislation announced by Queen Elizabeth in her speech to Parliament last May.
The government said there was currently no timetable for the introduction of the bill….
Legislation concerning space is reserved to Westminster.
The UK’s government’s Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for the Modern Transport Bill, which would set regulations for driverless cars as well as allowing UK aerodromes to access space.
It told BBC Scotland that it had been working hard on the bill but parliamentary time had been limited by events such as Brexit and the discussions over triggering Article 50.
A spokeswoman for the DfT said: “The final date for the introduction of the Modern Transport Bill will be announced in due course.
“We are creating the legislative and regulatory framework to allow the development of spaceports in the UK. It will be for the market to decide where the first spaceport will be established.”
Other states seeking to get in on the growing commercial space industry have adopted legislation requiring plaintiffs to prove “gross negligence” in order to collect damages, a tougher standard than “ordinary negligence,” and Georgia should do the same in order to compete for space business, said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, the bill’s chief sponsor….
The proposed Spaceport Camden could create more than 2,000 jobs in an economically stressed part of Georgia, while at the same time serving as a catalyst for companies involved in the commercial space industry in metro Atlanta.
An environmental impact study spearheaded by the Federal Aviation Administration that began late in 2015 is due to produce a draft report by the end of this year….
Also this week, a committee in the Georgia House of Representatives passed an identical bill offering liability protection for spaceport activities.
During an update of the ongoing study released this week, Stacey Zee, a FAA environmental specialist explained the status of the ongoing work.
“The team has been working hard over the past few months to develop the draft EIS and write reports based on the cultural resource surveys and wetland surveys that we completed in the fall,” Zee said.
A survey has been conducted to determine if there are any jurisdictional wetlands on the site for the proposed spaceport. The Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with reviewing and verifying the information, she said.
The team will also begin consultations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to discuss endangered species and potential impacts from rocket launches from the site.
Some good news for supporters of a spaceport in Camden County, Georgia.
The Senate Study Committee on the Camden County spaceport is recommending passage of legislation “that sends a clear signal to the commercial space industry that Georgia is open for business.”
The committee held three meetings before announcing its recommendation Thursday, including one in Camden County, where it heard testimony from supporters and opponents of the Georgia Space Flight Act.
The legislation requires companies in the business of launching rockets in Georgia to train their employees so they understand the risks associated with space flight. Basically, workers in the space flight industry in Georgia will waive the right to sue the companies they work for unless gross negligence can be proven.
ROME (ASI PR)– ALTEC S.p.A., the Italian engineering and logistics service provider for the International Space Station, and Virgin Galactic LLC, the US spaceflight company within the Virgin Group, announced the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed to study experimental sub-orbital spaceflight in Italy.
President Barack Obama has signed into law a measure that will help the nation’s growing legion of spaceports fight the encroachment of obstacles such as transmission lines that could endanger suborbital spacecraft.
The measure, sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was inspired by a problem experienced by the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is in the Congressman’s district. A utility company built extra tall transmission towers near the airport, sparking safety concerns among officials there.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) review has found that the nation’s spaceport operators are confused about the insurance they should have for launch accidents.
“Specifically, several spaceport operators GAO interviewed said that, based on their interpretation of the financial responsibility regulations, they were unsure whether their property would be covered under a launch company’s insurance policy or whether they would need to purchase their own insurance for their property to be covered,” the report states.
The Camden County Joint Development Authority voted last week to provide $750,000 for the establishment of a spaceport in Georgia.
Before the vote, authority chairman Charlie Smith told members they had an obligation to approve the funding request from the Camden County Commission.
“Refusal would be a slap in the face of the people who are funding us,” Smith said. “It would be a tragedy for us not to abide by the county commission’s request.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board allowed county resident and vocal spaceport critic Steve Weinkle to speak. He said the commissioners’ request for JDA funding was “distressing,” but not surprising. It is an indication the county did a poor job planning, he said.
The county has already spent about $3 million to establish a spaceport and Weinkle predicted the county will have an empty piece of property by the time the process ends. He also questioned if commissioners believe the authority is doing its job to bring new employers to the county.
“It’s a bottomless pit,” he said. “We’re spending our future for the spaceport.”
As we face the end of another fiscal year with Congress not even close to passing a national budget, there is one tiny ray of hope coming out of Washington.
A bill introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) concerning the nation’s spaceports passed unanimously, 425-0. The measure would allow the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct studies to determine whether constructing or altering structures at or near spaceports will interfere with “launch and reentry vehicles arriving or departing from a commercial launch site or reentry site.”
The measure is good news for the Mojave Air and Space Port, which has been concerned about the encroachment of structures on the airport.
McCarthy’s bill now goes to the Senate. Whether the measure will be passed during this current session is unclear. Congress is about to go on break so members campaign for re-election based on what a great job they’re doing in Washington.
After the election is over, Congress will reconvene to try to compete a year’s worth of legislative work in the time they have left before Christmas. If the Senate doesn’t approve McCarthy’s bill then, he will have to reintroduce it in the new Congress that convenes in January.
KODIAK, AK. (AAC PR) — On Saturday, August 13th, Alaska Aerospace Corporation and the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) commemorating completion of the rebuilding of damaged facilities caused by the launch failure in August 2014.
FARNBOROUGH, UK, July 12, 2016 (XCOR PR) – US manned space launch vehicle designer XCOR Aerospace has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with spaceplane design and operating company Orbital Access Limited and Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport. This partnership is supported by Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s economic development agency.
PRESTWICK, Scotland (South Ayrshire Council PR) — Plans to drive forward development at Prestwick in the aerospace and space hub sectors is to benefit from a major new project. South Ayrshire Council has agreed to joint fund a two-year support package designed to build Prestwick’s momentum as one of the UK’s leading aerospace clusters.
The Herald reports the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has scrapped a competition to select a single spaceport in favor of a licensing process that would enable multiple locations to apply to host launches. The newspaper obtained a copy of a letter sent to spaceport competitors.
The letter, dated May 20 and signed by Michael Clark, DfT head of international aviation, safety and environment, and Catherine Mealing-Jones, director of growth at the UK Space Agency, states that the move will help create “viable business models at a range of locations”.
The letter states: “To avoid restricting the development of the UK market, the Government will create the regulatory conditions for any suitable location that wishes to become a spaceport, to take the opportunity to develop and attract commercial space business…
“The Government recognises the importance of industry working with operators to start spaceflight operations and we will work with operators to develop viable business models at a range of locations across the UK, rather than at any one single location.”
Five locations around the UK were in competition to become the location of the kingdom’s first spaceport.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has a licensing process for spaceports.