As the public comment period comes to a close on the draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on June 14th for Spaceport Camden, a Georgia and national political heavyweight sends a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator.
Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, sent a letter to Director Dan Elwell, touting the spaceport’s economic viability for Georgia and urges its approval.
In the letter, Gingrich says that Spaceport Camden, if its FAA licenses are approved, “will be the only purely commercial vertical launch industry on the east coast” of the United States.
Gingrich writes that Spaceport Camden is “incredibly important” for Georgia’s overall economy and that the Aerospace components are the number one export from the state. Gingrich also points out that Georgia Tech is the number two aerospace engineering program in the country. With such assets helping to secure the state’s chances of obtaining a vertical launch spaceport, Gingrich points out that Georgia claims 1/10 of 1 percent of a $330 billion global space economy which is projected to be with $30 trillion over the next ten years.
Gingrich further describes that allowing Spaceport Camden to be approved is good public policy and aligns to the Trump Administration’s plan to reconvene the National Space Council and develop a National Space Strategy to streamline commercial space regulations.
“But streamlining commercial space regulations will not hasten space innovation if we do not also increase launch capacity, particularly vertical launch capacity on the east coast,” writes Gingrich.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives has written many columns and reports in national publications on the evolution of the space industry in the United States.
In a SPACE.COM interview, Gingrich is quoted at a space industry conference that commercial space activity will be bustling by 2020, and “American would possess a next-generation propulsion system by then” and that private enterprise, not NASA, would “lead and enable humanity’s expansion” in the space industry. Gingrich also sits on the space Users Advisory Group to President Trump which consists of industry leaders, government and spaceflight organizations shaping the nation’s space industry policy.
Gingrich’s letter comes at a time when many local property owners in Camden County are pushing back on the development of the spaceport, particularly over the launch area over Cumberland Island, Georgia in which many property owners believe their rights are being infringed. The launch trajectory area for Spaceport Camden is the only launch site in the nation that launches over a land mass. However, many in the space industry have suggested that launch technologies have evolved to limit exposure to danger.
The draft EIS, recommends but does not require, “authorized persons” (residents, vacation homeowners, campers, and Park Service Personnel), are to leave the island during launch times. Spaceport Camden and local law enforcement will coordinate checkpoints to ensure transportation way from the launch zone is secured. According to the EIS, the length of a closure to these areas could be up to 4-6 hours where some closures could be as long as 12-hours.
With FAA regulation 14 CFR 417.107, a launch operator may initiate flight only if the risk to any individual member of the public does not exceed a casualty expectation of one in one million per launch for each hazard. This could require a launch operator to identify areas of closure before launching thus a communication plan to the affected homeowners would be issued.
Spaceport Camden, if approved, is expected to launch 12 rockets a year along with up to 12 associated launch vehicle first-stage landings per year; in support of the launches, there would be up to 12 wet dress rehearsals and up to 12 static fire engine tests per year.
The local county government, who oversees the spaceport project in Camden County, has signed an agreement with a small start-up satellite launch provider to explore launch operations, manufacturing, and research/development.
The public comment on the EIS draft expires on June 14th.Gingrich Spaceport
Related article –