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Despite Spaceport Camden angst, officials move forward with small satellite provider

Spaceport officials meet with small rocket company.

A California based aerospace startup company is considering Spaceport Camden for a rocket manufacturing and launch operation.

ABL Space Systems, a small satellite launch provider, has already signed an agreement with Camden County Spaceport officials to explore launch operations at the 400-acre proposed site at Spaceport Camden.

ABL Space Systems has developed a rocket designed to carry 900 kilograms into low earth orbit, or 650 kilograms into sun synchronous orbit.

The meeting with ABL comes off of FAA public comment period over the Environmental Impact Study which displayed some community anxiety about rocket launches over Cumberland Island National Seashore and property owners on Little Cumberland Island. Most of the landowners are out of town and do not live permanently in Camden County. Spaceport Camden is the only potential launch site in the U.S. that launches over a land mass. The local grassroots teams and the National Park Service have launched awareness campaigns to protect the islands nature, against environmental risks, and possible safety concerns.

Camden County Joint Development Authority Executive Director, James Coughlin along with County Administrator and Spaceport Camden Project Lead, Steve Howard met with ABL CEO, Harry O’Hanley and CFO Dan Piemont to Camden County on Monday to review facilities and industrial sites for ABL’s future operations in Camden County.

Spaceport Camden has codified a memorandum of understanding between ABL and Camden County officials in March to explore the test, manufacture, assemble, and launch orbital vehicles in Camden County. ABL has expressed interest in beginning a ground test campaign in Camden County as soon as the fourth quarter of 2018.

“We are excited to welcome ABL Space Systems to Camden. It is immediately clear that we share a common vision for the commercial space and the role Spaceport Camden can play in advancing this important industry sector,” said Camden JDA Executive Director James Coughlin. “ABL wants to get started right away and we think there are a variety of sites in Camden County that could allow them to begin testing and manufacturing their launch vehicle before the end of the year.”

“ABL is an impressive company with significant experience in the commercial space industry,” said Steve Howard. “We know they want to hit the ground running in Camden and expect local businesses to start receiving solicitations from ABL soon after they commence operations here.”

ABL looks to have its first commercial launch in 2020 or sooner. The company wants to locate engineering, manufacturing and research and development in Camden County, in addition, to launch activities from Spaceport Camden. Camden County appears to be a desired geographical location along with Camden’s pre-existing military workforce associated with Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine installation to attract the small rocket industry.

Spaceport Camden will have to obtain and operations and launch license from the FAA pending the completion of the public comment period on June 14, 2018.

Additional comments can be mailed to. Stacey M. Zee, Environmental Specialist, Federal Aviation Administration, c/o Leidos, 2109 Air Park Road SE, Suite 200, Albuquerque, NM 87106. Comments can also be sent by email to FAACamdenSpaceportEIS@Leidos.com.

Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

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