Coronavirus wrecks havoc on Rockets!

April 8, 2020

No! Coronavirus didn't come from Space, but it's getting the blame for space industry failures.

 

Camden politicians expect us to continue taking their word for the value and potential of our so-called "investment" in the spaceport. We’re supposed to believe that pumping more money into the still-secretive Union Carbide contract will somehow create a new space-based industry where none currently exists.

 

Steve Howard and Jimmy Starline have exhibited slim success in industrial development. No wonder they continue to defend the hired-hand consultants that convinced them the unproven startup rocket/satellite industry would be a goldmine for Camden County justifying even more payments to the consultants!

 

Our officials want us to believe that they have the answers to spaceport success that have evaded all other spaceports that invested tens or hundreds of millions in the space industry. So here are a few more reasons why we should not trust their words.

 

The Tribune & Georgian has known for quite some time that ABL Space has canceled their Camden County lease. But this fact has never been reported to the public in the newspaper. When politicians touted the ABL Space lease, they claimed they were keeping their spaceport promises. The Tribune & Georgian reported that. ABL’s lease never resulted in a single job here.  They never even put a desk in the building. ABL Space hasn’t launched anything, anywhere, so who knows what their potential might be? But it’s hard to justify building spaceports for companies like ABL Space.

 

Now, ABL has pulled out with nothing more than the original publicity to show for it.

 

We recently reported that rocket startup Astra Space, with a $12 million reward on the line, had a third consecutive failure at Kodiak’s spaceport.

 

The spaceport reported an “anomaly” on a launch pad during a rocket launch dress rehearsal. Astra’s CEO requested “everyone stay clear of the area to allow our crew to address the situation,” and “The area is still hazardous and should be avoided," and the launch, "previously scheduled for Tuesday, has been canceled."

 

Now, two weeks later, there’s more on this story. On Sunday, CNBC provided this Astra Space update:

 

While no one was hurt (in the accident), “a fire consumed Astra’s rocket – a total loss.” It’s little wonder  that Astra “canceled the launch planned for Tuesday.” We had questioned why there were no pictures of the "anomaly?" Now, we know. We still await post-flight pictures of Vector’s rocket launched from Camden in 2017. That was the last rocket Vector ever launched. Remember the news stories on that one?

 

Now, coronavirus gets the blame for every space company failure.

Astra, “recently reduced its staff through a mix of furloughs and layoffs in order to survive delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Last week, satellite-maker OneWeb failed to get investors to put up more than the $3.4 billion they’ve already risked. OneWeb blamed coronavirus as it descended into bankruptcy.

 

 “Astra’s customers are worried about surviving this crisis themselves, the person said, "with about half of its customers looking to pull out or at the very least renegotiate.”

 

And of course, it’s coronavirus that caused Astra to lay-off employees while it continues to operate with “only about 15% of its employees” working at its facilities last month.

 

Why should we believe anything politicians say about spaceports? They can’t predict the success of rocket companies or satellite companies. A space industry historian recalls this same super-hyped global space scenario failed in the 1980s. Every dollar spent on the still-hidden Union Carbide contract and Spaceport Camden is a dollar that’s “Lost In Space” as our officials try to save face.

 

No matter how they phrase it, Spaceport Camden is a GAMBLE, not an investment. When Camden stores are shutting down, people have lost their jobs, and banks are worried about mortgages getting paid, one thing Camden taxpayers cannot afford is our officials’ secretive lousy judgment.

 

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