Wherever the Camden Commissioners are getting their advice, it must be a different place than the rest of the space industry. Almost 5-years into the project, they realized that SpaceX had chosen Texas way back in 2013. And they now know that in 2014, Space Florida canceled the Shiloh Spaceport project because there wasn’t enough demand for launch pads. And two years ago, Space Florida and the Air Force figured out a way to activate previously retired launch pads at Cape Canaveral and to break the self-imposed bottlenecks so they could launch as often as there was demand.
They’ve finally gotten the message that their original plans were unrealistic. Spaceport Camden’s plan has changed from ‘experienced’ SpaceX-size rockets to untested, still non-existent small rockets from start-up rocket companies. Better utilization of existing facilities, the evolution of the space industry, and the lack of high-risk capital have made Spaceport Camden superfluous.
Many financial observers have recognized the facts don’t match space promoters’ and consultants’ self-serving hype. Here’s the latest:
This week’s Kiplinger Letter confirms in a few words what spaceport opponents have learned from reading daily space industry news and other spaceports’ financial records. When coupled with US Census statistics, there’s every reason to believe that spaceports do more harm than good in their communities.
Spaceports never shut down, even if they never perform a rocket launch or produce the promised jobs. Our next blast will detail the available statistics about spaceport “failure to launch” at all licensed spaceports except Kennedy Space Center. As OneWeb’s recent bankruptcy proves, not even having a spaceport in your backyard, nor legions of rocket scientists or $3.4 BILLION can solve the problem that “Space Is Hard.” The quote is by Richard Branson, who is approaching 11 years late on Virgin Galactic’s maiden space tourism flight. Spaceport America was built expecting Branson’s first flight in 2009! And the jobs he created in New Mexico are in a different county than the spaceport!
Then, last night at SpaceX Boca Chica, there was this:
Watch the full video: https://youtu.be/wFXQ5SRCy74
Yesterday’s failure means everything SpaceX has built at Boca Chica has failed during testing. And it all requires billions from the federal government (Latest: “SpaceX Seeks $16 Billion in Government Subsidies for Satellite Internet Project”, Motley Fool, March 12, 2020.) Boca Chica Spaceport’s Environmental Impact Statement never anticipated explosions and risks to nearby residents who’ve been forced to accept SpaceX’s buyout offers. The damage to the environment has not been assessed. Still, the scale of the change in risks is so immense; the FAA or a federal court will eventually require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Boca Chica still does not have an FAA Launch Site Operator License.
So the secret for Spaceport Camden is for our County Commissioners to:
Plan for explosions;
Accept harm to our marshes and coastal islands;
Buy more fire engines;
Find a rocket company with a launchable rocket (and money);
Count on a few hundred million dollars from Atlanta or Washington; and,
Be able to pay for the inevitable lawsuits.
All so we can compete for this space business. Sounds like the plan.