Are Camden's officials so desperate to prove the spaceport has real potential that they will promote a one-year-old startup like Vector as the future of Spaceport Camden operations? What happened to the successful rocket companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin that they teased us with just 2 years ago?
How can Camden County have any hope of recovering the millions already spent on the spaceport when the best they can count on are companies promising 100 launches-to-orbit each year but have not yet reached 10,000 feet. Previous Camden hopefuls XCOR and Firefly Space Systems have both closed their operations within the past year.
The Vector principal is Jim Cantrell who boasts that he used to work for SpaceX and also runs an auto restoration business from the same address where he builds rockets.
Vector was formed 18 months ago from Garvey Space who launched this rocket using the same construction that Vector launched in Camden County:
Vector shows only a partial entire flight of their May 2017 rocket test and did not show the parachute deployment or the rocket afterwards. Did it crash? Six weeks later, they brought a similar rocket to Camden. Why they are keeping people away from the launch? Perhaps it is because every rocket launched by Garvey/Vector has qualified as a model/amateur rocket according to FAA launch requirements. That is why they can launch from a non-designated spaceport location. They could have launched at Clegg's Sod Farm near Jacksonville where amateur rockets are regularly launched to altitudes greater than Vector has achieved..
Keep in mind that the edge of space is at >330,000 feet altitude and requires a guidance system that Garvey/Vector has not demonstrated. Vector has made it perhaps to 5,000 feet, less than 1/150th of the required altitude.
CLICK IMAGE BELOW FOR LARGER VERSION:
# 3 is the Blue Origin New Glenn, #4 is the Falcon Heavy, #6 is the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the world's most dependable orbital rocket, the ULA Atlas V, is #14. The Vector-H is #55.
From this website: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40158.220
About Vector's May launch:"The rocket launched today, called "Vector-R Block 0.1", was very different from the proposed orbital Vector-R. It has no second stage, just a metal construction shaped like one. Its first stage is very different - instead of the whole first stage being propellant tanks, what you see is an empty shell with a pair of ~100 liter tanks mounted to the inside. This makes the shape and size similar to the operational version, but only provides enough fuel for ~10 seconds of rocket power (compared to 145 on the orbital version). Furthermore, the entire assembly is made of traditional metal skin-and-stringers, while the orbital variant will be made of composite material. This version uses fins for guidance, while the orbital variant would use thrust vectoring. Finally, it only has a single first-stage engine - the orbital variant will have 3. These changes mean that it can't even reach a mile in height, let alone get to space or reach orbit - hence why it's considered a test article."
"Since the rocket was unguided, they could only have tested a limited part of the avionics. The most important part of the avionics to test is that it can guide the rocket properly, and that couldn't have been tested with this launch."
"At least 3/4 of their pipeline comes from a $60m contract with York Space Systems:-Oct 17, 2016: A Denver startup company that makes small satellites has signed a $60 million launch agreement with a new rocket company [Vector Space Systems] to get six satellite missions to orbit by 2022. The seven-employee company, currently based in Denver, is establishing a satellite factory near Centennial.
York raised some seed funding in 2015:-February 6, 2015 – York Space Systems, an aerospace company specializing in small and medium class spacecraft based in Denver, Colorado recently closed on their Seed Round of investment.""Skeptics may ask how a 7 man startup that raised seed funding can write a $60m contract. Maybe this is a clue:- York Space Systems Advisory Director is James Cantrell"
HOW CAN THE ECONOMIC WORK WITH VECTOR?
Camden has applied to the FAA for 12 launches per year. The maximum annual spaceport revenue possible from 12 launches is likely much less than $2 million which is less than 10% of the economic value claimed by Camden County's Economic Assessment. We are told that the rest will magically appear from other value-added items like tourism. But the county only receives 1% of the sales tax collected on sales to visitors. The numbers just do not work where the spaceport will be self-supporting. Like all other spaceports, taxpayers will be forced to underwrite Spaceport Camden operating costs, perhaps forever.
Doesn't the following statement from Vector's Jim Cantrell indicate that they intend to launch from many places? If that is the case, what assures Camden of even 12 launches per year at a value that can cover County costs?
What happened to the deep-pocketed rocket companies with extensive safety records that were going to pay for Spaceport Camden?