The accompanying document (Camden_Technical_Clarifications.pdf) was legally obtained from Camden County under the Georgia Open Records Act. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Spaceport Camden promoters have mislead the public about the spaceport’s safety, viability, and progress.
We’ve been assured on numerous occasions that rocket launches will pose no significant hazard to Camden County’s citizens, waters, and properties. The attached document shows otherwise. It proves that many of the spaceport opposition Comments to the FAA EIS were accurate in December 2015 and March 2018. It proves that Spaceport Camden has always had safety, economic and legal barriers. This image (found on Page 5) proves it:
The Red, Gold, and Yellow areas represent zones where the FAA safety limits are exceeded. 100% of Little Cumberland Island and a large part of Cumberland Island with resident population is covered by Gold and Yellow Zones. The Blue dots are the locations of existing private homes. The Red zone shows the area where not even a single person can be present during a launch. The Gold Zone shows where the risk to people is greater than 1:100,000 which is more than TEN times the permitted level. The Yellow Zone indicates the area where Camden's calculations indicate the risk exceeds the most risk-tolerant limit of one in a million for whatever population count they used but are unwilling to disclose. The calculations don’t take into consideration that neither the FAA or Camden County can evacuate or limit number of owners or visitors present downrange on their private property.
Camden admits “we add additional people on Little Cumberland and Cumberland Island in addition to the database information since those sources do not account for seasonal or temporary visitors” (Page 3). However, Camden County, the Coast Guard, and the FAA cannot control how many people are present on Cumberland or Little Cumberland Islands at launch time. No figure is provided for the “additional people” used in calculations.
The document shows that Camden County proposes (Page 13) a concept they call “Authorized Persons” as a solution to the problem that they would launch over people rather than open ocean. The author admits the concept itself does not exist in an applicable situation anywhere in the United States. The reference to SpaceX launch site in Texas is inappropriate since those residences are BEHIND the launch pad (Page 8, 11-12). Unlike Spaceport Camden where people live immediately downrange, the SpaceX site will launch directly over the evacuated Gulf of Mexico.
The author makes a similar reference (Page 8) to Rocket Lab’s New Zealand site which is located directly on the tip of a peninsula high on a cliff above the Southern Pacific Ocean. Portland Island, located offshore from the launch pad, once had three lighthouse keepers. But the lighthouse was automated in 1984, so the island is now inhabited only by sheep.
Camden’s attempts to support their claims with references to situations that have no similarity to Spaceport Camden confuse the simple truth that no US-licensed spaceport launches rockets over local populations. That's because it’s dangerous to launch rockets.
The FAA has stated that the term “Authorized Person” is not used or defined by the FAA to apply to uninvolved third parties of launches. Of course, the FAA understands the law, so it is unlikely they can issue a Spaceport Camden site license except by ignoring or changing the law.
Page 9 of the document appears to be Camden’s effort to get the US Coast Guard to declare sovereignty over Little Cumberland and Cumberland Islands. It’s clear that the quoted US law intends to apply to waters and shore areas necessary for the USCG to control the safety of ships, shipping lanes, and persons using those waters. Camden seems to attempt the ridiculous argument that the USCG should extend it’s reach beyond “shore areas” to include inland private property and homes.
Using carefully qualified data, Camden’s $2,500 a week “spaceport subject matter expert” calculated in a 2016 Guest Column in the Tribune and Georgian that the odds of rocket crash were about 1%. But as the author of the attached document, Nelson freely admits that the risk is 2% to 6% (last item on page 28). That’s what’s shown in the Draft EIS.
Yet during yesterday’s presentations at the 2019 Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, the following slide was presented. It shows a minimum failure rate of 10% over the first 10 launches for “all active orbital launch vehicles since 2000.” What’s a simple citizen to believe?
Camden citizens pay $14,000 a year for Steve Howard’s membership to the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
Read the entire document and decide for yourself if you think Camden has been honest about the spaceport. If after three years they can’t get the technical details right, how can we trust them on the spaceport economics? In July 2018, having already spent millions, Camden’s experts freely admit many problems remained with Spaceport Camden. Is that why the Environmental Impact Statement remains on PAUSE at the FAA? Hopefully, Camden's new Washington attorneys/consultants are experienced enough to get to the facts and will advise their client to forget the spaceport.
They've known for a long, long time.
Anyone who’ve trusted spaceport promoters should be mad as H-E-double hockey sticks.