Groups Protest FAA’s Curtailing of Spaceport Camden Review

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Environmental groups have protested a decision by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) to limit its review of Spaceport Camden’s revised plan to launch satellites from Camden County, Georgia.

Calling the decision “unlawful,” the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has urged the FAA to conduct a full review of the controversial plan that would allow for new public comment on the revised spaceport proposal supported by the Camden County government.

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FAA Limits Evaluation of Spaceport Infrastructure Funding Options

U.S. commercial launch sites that are licensed to host or have hosted since 2015, a commercial space launch, as of August 2020 (Credit: GAO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rejected a recommendation from a government watchdog that it conduct detailed analysis of a broad range of financing tools for funding infrastructure projects at the nation’s spaceports.

In a report to Congressional committees, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it recommended to the FAA that it analyze the trade-offs of using direct loans, loan guarantees, tax incentives and other tools to increase investment in spaceport infrastructure.

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Report Recommends Former Spaceport America Executives be Investigated for Possible Criminal Charges

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
  • Outside investigation concluded former Executive Director Dan Hicks ignored spending regulations, submitted falsified travel documents, and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary travel and unrealistic projects
  • Hicks portrayed by staff as an incompetent manager who bullied employees
  • Ex-CFO Zach DeGregorio facilitated Hicks’ violations by improperly approving travel and ignoring rules and statutes
  • Former New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board Chairman Rick Holdridge accused of allowing violations to continue

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A highly critical investigation of Spaceport America has determined the New Mexico state government should consider formal criminal and/or administrative charges against former Executive Director Dan Hicks and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Zach DeGregorio for their mishandling of the spaceport’s finances.

“As detailed above, there is evidence to conclude that Dan Hicks violated criminal and administrative statutes, as well as the State of New Mexico Governmental Compliance Act, and Governor Lujan Grisham’s Code of Conduct, during his tenure as Director of the Spaceport,” the report said.

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Multi-Million Pound Funding Package Pledged for UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire, Scotland

Artist’s rendering of Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport (Credit: South Ayreshire Council)

AYR, Scotland (South Ayrshire Council PR) — A commitment to invest over £80 million [$106.3 million] in a UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire, was made by both UK and Scottish Governments, in partnership with South Ayrshire Council, as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal signing.

The funding package will develop and support a wide range of new, cutting-edge aerospace and space activities around Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including a satellite launch site and a range of other advanced technology initiatives beyond space launch.

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Shetland Space Centre Welcomes Transfer of Lockheed Martin UKVL Pathfinder Programme to Unst

Launch from Shetland (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

HAROLDSWICK, Scotland (Shetland Space Centre PR) — Shetland Space Centre today welcomed the announcement from the UK Space Agency that Lockheed Martin is transferring its satellite launch operations to Unst, creating hundreds of jobs.

UKSA said that the move from Sutherland followed a thorough process of due diligence and the project would deliver long-term value and help establish a sustainable, commercial launch market as part of the UK’s spaceflight programme – LaunchUK.

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SSC to Launch Satellites From Esrange Space Center

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

SOLNA, Sweden (Swedish Space Corporation PR) — Today, the Swedish government announced a decision to establish capability to launch small satellites from Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.

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Georgia Southern University Study Shows Massive Tourism Boom for Spaceport Camden

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

WOODBINE, Ga., October 6, 2020 (Spaceport Camden PR) – Camden County and the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER) at Georgia Southern University has released a new study on the economic impact of space tourism on coastal Georgia. The report estimates that a single launch could attract approximately 4,000-5,000 visitors to the area. CBAER estimates that 38 to 45 jobs connected to tourism and hospitality would be supported long-term by the project as well.

While there would be some additional new jobs as a result, the primary impact on employment would likely be adding more hours to existing employees, shifting employees from part-time to full-time work, or increasing their income due to increased customer traffic and visitor counts.

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Rocket Factory Augsburg Signs Agreement with Andøya Space for Maiden Flight

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

AUGSBURG, Germany — Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), a participation of space technology company OHB SE, will be establishing a launch site for a micro launcher together with Norwegian company Andøya Space. The two partners have now signed a letter of intent to this effect. The site is to provide launch services for small satellites from 2022.

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Environmental Groups File New Claims Accusing Spaceport Camden of Hiding Public Documents

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

WOODBINE, GA (SELC PR) – Environmental organizations filed new claims today against Spaceport Camden proponents for unlawfully withholding important public documents about the flawed project.

On behalf of One Hundred Miles, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has amended its ongoing lawsuit in Camden County Superior Court against Camden County and Spaceport Camden consultant Andrew Nelson for failing to meet requirements under the Georgia Open Records Act.

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Dispute Erupts Over SpaceX’s Boca Chica Test Facility

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

A dispute has erupted between several environmental groups and the federal government over the impact of SpaceX’s test operations at Boca Chica Beach in south Texas.

The issue: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved SpaceX’s plan to use the coastal site for launching its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets up to 12 times per year.

However, Elon Musk’s company has instead been using its facilities to develop and flight test its larger Starship and Super Heavy boosters. The resulting impacts have been much greater than anticipated under the original proposal, environmental groups argue.

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Space Hub Sutherland Application Submitted to Scottish Land Court

Space Hub Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: HIE)

INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is applying to the Scottish Land Court for consent to build, operate and, ultimately, decommission Space Hub Sutherland on a crofting estate on the A’Mhoine peninsula.

The spaceport plans have already received planning approval from the Highland Council, with up to 12 launches a year permitted.

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Space Hub Sutherland Wins Final Approval

Space Hub Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: HIE)

INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — Ambitious plans to launch satellites into orbit from the north Highlands of Scotland have been approved by the area’s local authority.

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) intends to create Space Hub Sutherland on land owned by Melness Crofters Estate on the A’ Mhòine peninsula, south of Tongue.

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Go-ahead for Space Hub Sutherland Starts Countdown to Launch of Orbex Prime from Scotland

Prime rocket launch from Sutherland spaceport. (Credit: Orbex/Anders Bøggild)
  • Sutherland spaceport granted planning permission
  • Orbex confirms six launch contracts
  • Significant steps on launch system testing
  • New jobs in Moray and Highlands regions

FORRES, UK, 26 June 2020 (Orbex PR) – The first orbital spaceflight from the United Kingdom has come a step closer following the Highland Council’s decision to give the go-ahead for the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport.

Orbex, the UK-based space launch company, has confirmed that Orbex Prime will be the first vertical launch vehicle to fly into orbit from the Space Hub, which will be constructed near Melness on the northern coast of Scotland. Orbex today confirmed the company has already signed six launch contracts.

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Planning Approval Obtained for Sutherland Spaceport

Sutherland launch complex. (Credit: HIE)

INVERNESS, Scotland (HIE PR) — The Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee today [Friday 26 June 2020] approved plans by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to build a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland.

Council approval means that small commercial satellites and launch vehicles designed and manufactured in Scotland could be heading into orbit from a Scottish spaceport within the next few years.

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New US-UK Agreement Boosts UK’s Spaceport Plans

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK and US governments have signed a new agreement paving the way for US companies to operate from UK spaceports and export space launch technology.

UK Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation, Christopher Ford, signed the US-UK Technology Safeguards Agreement, which will enable U.S. companies to participate in space launches from the United Kingdom, on Tuesday 16 June 2020.

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