Camden LDZ Maps
The examples on this page represent what an LDZ may look like for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Spaceport Camden. The data is generally representative of a Falcon 9 launch from Kennedy Spaceflight Center ("KSC") which, unlike Camden, is launched exclusively from a cape over the ocean. Also, KSC is significantly larger and essentially provides its own landside buffer zone. This example, however accurate it may be to some prior launch, is speculative since each launch is considered unique where the destination, payload and purpose of the rocket will determine its actual flight path and LDZ.
The Falcon 9 is a medium payload vertical launch rocket that carries satellites to orbit and supplies to the International Space Station. It has been flown on a number of successful missions and is considered reliable. So we hope that this example represents the LDZ with the least possible impacts. But as stated above, every flight will be separately specified and approved.
We found actual launch warning information indicating that Falcon 9 launches from KSC have an LDZ that is about 22 miles wide at the launch pad, extending from about 36 miles to more than 92 miles offshore where it tapers to about 11 miles wide. For this example, we have overlaid that LDZ over the southern-most azimuth possible from Spaceport Camden.
Using this example, the LDZ will cover about 80% of Cumberland Island, Little Cumberland, the Southern half of Jekyll Island, the submarine maintenance bays at Kings Bay, Mush Bluff, Cabin Bluff, and all of Crooked River State Park. Cumberland Sound and St. Andrews Sound will be closed to boating. Typically, a 30 mile radius of airspace is also cleared.
It is unlikely that the FAA would ever approve an LDZ that covers so much populated area, Kings Bay and Crooked River, therefore it is unlikely that the southern-most or northern-most limits of the proposed flight zones could ever be used. However, Spaceport Camden is applying for these limits so they must be considered as possibilities. If they are unable to use the extreme limits, the versatility, and probably marketability, of the spaceport is diminished.
Irrespective of the size of the LDZ and the Blast Exclusion Zone immediately around the launch pad, the Toxic Waste Landfill will always be about 1.6 miles from the Launch pad and less than 1 mile from the proposed flyback landing pad. The launch pad will be less than 1,000 feet from the bank of Todd Creek and about 1.2 miles from the Satilla River channel. It is likely that these bodies of water will be inside the Blast Exclusion Zones for most launches and engine tests.
Is it absolutely impossible for an errant rocket or its debris from an accident to ever hit Jekyll Island, Harrietts Bluff, St. Marys, or Kings Bay?
Even Camden County's proposed trajectory and unrealistically narrow Launch Danger Zone pass over private property and homes on Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island. In addition, the trajectory assumes that it will be acceptable for rockets to launch over the Cumberland Wilderness Area. If permitted, it would be the first time ever that rocket launches are allowed over residences, private property and National Park Parks or Wilderness Areas.
SPACEPORT CAMDEN IS UNSUITABLE FOR THE
SPACEX LAUNCH OF JUNE 28, 2015
We have taken the SpaceX LDZ from the June 28, 2015 launch of CRS7 (which exploded about 2 minutes after launch) from Kennedy Space Center, and superimposed it on the Spaceport Camden site with correction to allow for the same trajectory. The LDZ would cover 100% of Jekyll Island with the rocket passing directly over the populated southern end. Half of Saint Simons Island and all of Sea Island would be included in the LDZ. The Sidney Lanier Bridge lies in this LDZ and the Port of Brunswick would be closed.
Of course,the FAA would never allow such encroachment on populated areas and critical infrastructure so this particular LDZ would never be approved. However, if the safety exclusion zone is required for Kennedy where overflight is mostly over water, how can the size of it be reduced for Camden? In fact, the LDZ would probably have to be larger since it hugs the concave contour of Georgia's coast longer than the Kennedy site which bulges into the Atlantic at a cape. The only way the launch could be made from Camden would be for the rocket to make mid-course corrections which carry a heavy penalty in reduced payload due to the extra fuel required. It stands to reason that a launch requiring the trajectory of CRS-7 would take place from Kennedy rather than from Spaceport Camden, lessening the usefulness of the site and the corresponding interest of prospective operators.
The Red Line in the image represents the northern-most azimuth that is mentioned on the SpaceportCamden.us website as a permitted trajectory. Clearly, that azimuth is not realistic once the required safety zone is applied.