This post originally appeared in the Tribune & Georgian
Citizens will have an opportunity to react to Spaceport Camden’s draft environmental impact statement at two public hearings the second week of April.
As it closes in on the first hurdle of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensing process, Camden County’s commercial spaceport project is already getting a reaction from space companies as well as competing launch facilities.
Camden County is working on two new prospects related to the spaceport, said county administrator Steve Howard on Wednesday.
“Project Orbit” is a high-tech satellite manufacturer that could bring about 100 jobs, with average annual salaries of $85,000, to the county, he said.
“They shortlisted us based on their criteria of wanting to be close to a spaceport,” Howard said.
The second prospect is another space operator, in addition to the two that have already shown interest in Camden.
“This company is also looking for a launch site on the East Coast and a manufacturing location,” Howard said. “The principal representatives of the company will visit Camden in April.”
ABL Space Systems signed an agreement with the county in March to explore manufacturing and launch operations in Camden. Vector also has been vocal in its interest in Spaceport Camden.
Howard is spearheading the spaceport project for the board of commissioners and the Joint Development Authority is assisting them with these new prospects.
The sudden interest is a sign of progress for the spaceport project, but also indicative of launch congestion on the Florida Space Coast.
According to an article in the March 12 edition of Space News, an industry publication based in Virginia, “The bad news for Florida’s Space Coast is that this launch boom is creating some headaches for the companies involved, as well as for NASA and the U.S. Air Force. The projected increase in launches in the coming years, from SpaceX and Blue Origin as well as United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK and others, is putting a strain on the infrastructure at the Cape. It has already led to conflicts about scheduling launches.”
In the closing paragraphs, the article quoted Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, expressing concerns about Camden County’s plans for a commercial launch site.
“Georgia is prepared to offer a commercial launch site that is going to be as attractive as Brownsville was, maybe more so,” he reportedly said during a recent panel discussion.
Public hearings to collect comments from citizens on the draft EIS for Spaceport Camden are set for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, and Thursday, April 12, at the Camden Community Recreation Center, 1050 Wildcat Drive in Kingsland.
Written comments also will be accepted through May 16 and may be sent by email to FAACamdenSpaceportEIS@Leidos.com, or by mail to Stacey M. Zee, Environmental Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration, c/o Leidos, 2109 Air Park Road SE, Suite 200, Albuquerque, NM 87106.
“Before including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment — including your personal identifying information — may be made publicly available at any time,” said Stacey Zee, FAA project lead. “While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.”
The draft EIS is posted online at https://tinyurl.com/spaceportEISdraft and is also available for public review in print form at the following locations:
• Camden County Public Library, 1410 Georgia Highway 40, Kingsland.
• St. Marys Public Library, 100 Herb Bauer Drive, St. Marys.
• Brunswick-Glynn County Library, 208 Gloucester St., Brunswick.
• St. Simons Island Public Library, 530A Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island.
The Spaceport Camden environmental subcommittee also plans to meet with the FAA from 9 to 11 a.m on April 12 to present their questions and concerns about the draft EIS. The meeting will be held at the county commissioners’ chambers in Woodbine and it is open to the public.