Georgia One step closer to having its own spaceport where rockets can be launched into orbit.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its final analysis on potential environmental implications on Thursday, determining that establishing the spaceport was the “preferred alternative.” Georgia is one step closer to acquiring its own spaceport.
Camden County, Georgia officials have been working to build and operate the 13th licensed commercial rocket launch site in the United States since 2012. The project, which has received $10 million in local taxpayer funds, has been criticized for the possibility of misfires causing damage to local wildlife or a neighboring Navy installation.
After nine years of preparation, county officials were finally able to get the project approved by the FAA.
In July, a final decision will be made on the project’s license to operate a launch site.
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Even if the project is approved, there is no certainty that the first rocket will be launched anytime soon. Despite an increase in commercial launch demand over the last decade, more than half of licensed US spaceports have never hosted a permitted launch.
Regardless, Camden County’s government administrator, Steve Howard, claims that the 55,000-strong community is grabbing a “once-in-a-generation chance” to not only participate in the commercial space race, but also to attract supporting companies and tourists.
“It’s never been about the rockets for us. Howard explained, “It’s about everything else.” “The spaceport and the rockets are catalysts. Everything else surrounding it is what we want: R&D, manufacturing, payload processing, STEM programs, and tourism.”
If the FAA granted Spaceport Camden a license, the county hopes to purchase 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) near the coast that was once used to build and test rocket engines for NASA in the 1960s.
Camden County would be one of 19 sites in the United States that might launch commercial rockets. Five are federal sites in the United States, such as Cape Canaveral in Florida. SpaceX and Blue Origin developed two private locations in Texas for their own exclusive use.
Camden County would become one of the dozen remaining launch pads available for lease by corporations with their own rockets. Seven of the sites—in Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma—have never had a licensed launch, according to the FAA.
The US Government Accountability Office stated in December that “operators of active spaceports and launch suppliers voiced worries that the FAA is licensing locations that may never conduct a launch.” This is a condensed version of the information.