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FAA To Hold Local Hearings On Coastal Georgia Spaceport

The hearings on the proposed spaceport will be held Wednesday and Thursday nights in Kingsland.
Credit Courtesy of Spaceport Camden
Audio version of this story here.

The Federal Aviation Administration is holding public hearings about the proposed spaceport in Camden County this week.

It has been over two years since the first public meeting, and the agency is now seeking comments on the findings of its recent environmental impact statement.

Some coastal Georgia residents are concerned by what they found in the draft report.

Kevin Lang owns property on Little Cumberland Island, which lies in the path of the suggested launch trajectories. He called the project “about as clear and present of a threat as we’ve ever seen to [the island].”

Spaceport Camden’s range of launch trajectories, from the Federal Aviation Administration's draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Camden County spaceport. (Federal Aviation Administration)
Spaceport Camden’s range of launch trajectories, from the Federal Aviation Administration’s draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Camden County spaceport. (Federal Aviation Administration)

The report projects a 2.5 to 6 percent failure rate for rocket launches at the Camden spaceport. Lang said that implies exploding rockets will be “part and parcel” of the facility.

He said the proposed launch paths over inhabited land are unprecedented in the United States and conflict with landowners’ property rights.

“The FAA has never permitted a spaceport where rockets fly up and over a community,” he said. “We want to make sure the FAA understands that we are a community.”

Over 80 families hold property on Little Cumberland.

He said he is also worried about light pollution, noise and visual disruption from tall construction on the site. The report states the spaceport would include structures like a water tower.

Others are in favor of the project.

State Rep. Jason Spencer calls it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for his district.

“If we let this opportunity escape us, I think we’re going to regret it,” he said.

Steve Howard, Camden County administrator and spaceport project lead, said he is excited about the “major milestone” these hearings represent. He said the project has been a “strategic priority” for the county.

Howard said he has received positive feedback from Camden County residents about the prospects of new jobs in science, technology and engineering fields.

The report states nearly 80 new jobs will likely be created by the facility, less than 1 percent of total county employment.

Jim Renner is also a landowner on Little Cumberland. He said no other commercial spaceport project in the United States has had high levels of economic development success. He said a Camden County spaceport will “only degrade” Georgia’s coastal environment. It will negatively impact industries dependent on the coast like tourism and commercial fishing, and, he said, ultimately be a waste of Camden County money.

Last year, the county spent nearly $1.5 million of its general fund on engineering and environmental consulting related to the project.

The hearings will be held Wednesday and Thursday nights in Kingsland.

Howard with Camden County said about 400 people showed up at the last meeting in late 2015.