On Tuesday, the FAA announced a daunting 16-month schedule for the ever-shrinking Spaceport Camden to finalize the now 5-year-old Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS must be completed before a launch site operator license might be granted. October 2021 is the expensive, new deadline. Camden officials have known this bad news has been coming which explains why they:
Recently blamed the FAA’s adherence to the published regulations and laws.
Made an exciting announcement about a startup real estate company's interest in building their first-ever spaceport business and technology park because of “Georgia Tech” and “airplane parts” and high-speed internet, or something.
Heralded the interest from a one-man commercial astronaut training school operation that’s never sent a graduate to space.
Failed to announce the collapse of ABL Space’s never actualized plans at Saint Marys’ Industrial Park.
Spent another quarter-million tax dollars or more since December on the spaceport.
Camden’s spaceport plan is such a mess the FAA now requires 16 more months and more public input before they will make a decision on the spaceport. Spaceport Camden was always a long shot because of the laws and regulations protecting Georgia's tidal marshes and Cumberland Island National Seashore, and the obvious problem of launching rockets for the first time ever over private homes and in the security zone of one of two US ballistic submarine bases. The FAA has already told Camden they will not be approving real rocket launches in October 2021. Not even for small rockets. Commissioners will have to raise taxes to spend at least one to two million dollars or more with nothing guaranteed. And there will likely be another $750,000 option payment for Union Carbide's contaminated site.
Here’s the FAA's new schedule that was published today for Spaceport Camden. Read the full FAA notification.
Summer/Fall 2020 FAA incorporates necessary changes and updates into the Revised Draft EIS
January 8, 2021 FAA releases the Revised Draft EIS for a 45-day public comment period and provides live or virtual public engagement opportunities, as appropriate
Winter/Spring 2021 FAA addresses public comments on the Revised Draft EIS and incorporates necessary changes into the Final EIS
September 3, 2021 FAA releases the Final EIS for public review
October 4, 2021 FAA signs the Record of Decision
Camden’s paid PR machine will crank out a press release today in an attempt to spin this as some kind of good news. It is good news only for the consultants and PR whizzes who will each receive tens of thousands to muddle-on. It is terrible news for Camden County taxpayers who foot the bills and still await Steve Howard’s years’ overdue Spaceport Operating Budget and Business Plan. The news requires creativity by the Commissioners to find another million dollars to waste on the spaceport.
Spaceport Opponents have been right.
The Consultants have been wrong.
Our Commissioners couldn’t tell the difference.
The only thing certain is that our incumbent Commissioners have paid a bunch of consultants that couldn’t turn a sow’s ear into a spaceport. Spaceport Camden is still unsuitable for rocket launches.
It's time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on Spaceport Camden.
Remember those Press Releases in December assuring us that Spaceport Camden was on track except for a quick adjustment to small rockets?
Remember the $5 million Commissioners have mostly wasted on the Draft EIS since 2015?
Remember Camden's million-dollar consultant's invention of "Authorized Persons" to solve the problem of launching rockets over Cumberland Island?
Remember when the FAA had to explain that although they had carelessly allowed "Authorized Persons" into the Draft EIS, we should ignore it because the term has no official meaning at the FAA.
Remember when Spaceport Camden would host SpaceX-sized rockets and astronaut tourism?
Remember Jason Spencer’s two-session quest in the Georgia legislature to pass the Georgia Spaceflight Liability Law protecting launch companies from damages from killing astronauts launched from Spaceport Camden?
Remember last October when Camden's spaceport "subject matter expert" publicized a "Safety Analysis" that the FAA couldn't use?
Remember, in 2017, when now-bankrupt Vector Space Systems was the toast of our Commissioners?
Remember when taxpayers paid $1,700 to rent the Commissioners an Executive toilet trailer for Vector's amateur rocket launch event?
Remember the name of a single member of the Spaceport Education and Jobs Subcommittee that has never met?
Remember when ABL Space Systems rented a church gym in Saint Marys to build rockets?
Remember when ABL Space Systems flew the coop?
Remember the missed deadlines in 2018, 2019 and 2020?