FAA Spills the Beans

Spaceport Camden Lies: Everything’s built on lies!

Let’s make it clear what we mean by LIE:

1. An intentionally false statement; an intentional falsehood.

2. A statement intended to deceive, even if literally true; a half-truth.

3. Anything that misleads.

We’ve been told by so-called “experts” that the Union Carbide site would be a perfect spaceport for launching rockets to a wide range of trajectories. We were even told that rockets would host space tourists. But since 2015, those experts have been unable to prove that even a single real rocket, in fact even the smallest ever if it is ever built, can be launched on the most useless of trajectories.

You won’t get the Truth from Spaceport Camden, but finally, the FAA spilled the beans.

August 6, 2021 FAA Letter to cooperating partners:

(exactly 5 years, 6 months, and 1 day after the first public hearing)

"The FAA has no information sufficient to support an environmental review of an actual launch vehicle at this time or in the foreseeable future." Dan Murray, Executive Director, FAA Office of Operational Safety

Good golly! They once told us the Purpose and Need for Spaceport Camden was to issue a “Launch Site Operator License for the operation of commercial space launch sites, and launch licenses to operate expendable and reusable orbital and suborbital launch vehicles?”

What is the Purpose and Need of a spaceport if it doesn’t launch rockets?

That shoots the "Purpose and Need" for both the FAA and Camden and begs the question why should the project proceed if there is no rocket for it? Into the foreseeable future! The contaminated Union Carbide land has heavy financial risks and no foreseeable use. The Bayer property may be just as bad, or worse. Spaceport Camden is pure risky speculation. More from the FAA letter: “Although FAA analyzed potential effects of future launch operations by a representative vehicle, as a reasonably foreseeable action related to this undertaking issuance of a Launch Site Operator License does not authorize actual launches to occur." “Therefore, no launch failure, debris field, or wildfire could result from this undertaking without an opportunity for additional review and input from consulting parties.” Translation: Maybe we’ll allow launches, but you won't know until after you've bought the contaminated land, built the infrastructure, etc., and found a rocket that fits. The FAA is at the point where all they can say is "what applicant would have gone this far if they aren't willing risk-takers?" BUT THE JAW-DROPPER OF THEM ALL: “There is no anticipation of any fire or damage during a nominal launch(1).

Feel safe? You’d miss the incredible qualifier to this statement if you didn’t read its footnote:

“(1) Nominal means, in reference to launch vehicle performance, trajectory, or stage impact point, a launch vehicle flight where all vehicle aerodynamic parameters are as expected. (14 CFR § 401.5)” Translation: There is no anticipation of any fire or damage during a launch because we count on everything working perfectly. The same can be said if no rocket ever attempts a launch, which goes back to Murray's statement at the beginning of this letter. The FAA is allowing Camden to bypass the required worst-case analysis until some future date. What have they been spending money on for past 2,241 days?

The FAA provided a 5-page timeline that included these gems:

4/10/2018 (856 days after the big expenses started)

Meeting between NPS and FAA and tour of Cumberland Island.

That's the FAA looking at the Cumberland Island situation 3 years after the FAA met with Camden to view the launch site.

The FAA met with the environmental committee and Little Cumberland Island representatives during that same 2018 visit. 10/4/2018 (1,033 days after the big expenses started)

FAA and NPS met with LCI residents and toured the island. Wow! Nice places you’ve got there.

But don’t worry. We’re really careful with where we allow catastrophic rocket accidents to crash.

Mr. Murray also wrote: “Department of Transportation Section 4(f) impact analysis is a discrete environmental impact category in the NEPA process for Department of Transportation per FAA Order 1050.1F. Information and determinations were provided through the EIS process.” NOPE. Precisely because they used a fictional rocket on a fictional trajectory that theoretically could not fail they missed the entire purpose of studying "foreseeable" impacts. If they had required the legally required studies instead of looking for loopholes, Spaceport Camden would have ended in 2017.

The problems at the SpaceX Boca Chica launch site illuminate how the FAA is careless about environmental law: Although the SpaceX Final EIS was completed in 2014, the FAA has allowed much more dangerous launches to be performed than was originally approved. In 2018, Elon Musk said about the site, "We've got a lot of land with nobody around, so if it blows up, it's cool." And as predicted, rockets have "blown up" in a handful of explosive accidents. In 2014, residents 2 miles behind the launchpad were told they might have to wear hearing protection due to excess noise (yes, they were told exactly that), now they must endure checkpoints and wildfires, and are forced to evacuate their homes on little notice. Like Camden's environmentally sensitive site, the Texas site is encircled by the Boca Chica National Wildlife Refuge, home to many vulnerable species. When a test flight on March 30 blew up, it sent debris into the refuge that took over three months to clean up. (Cumberland Island is populated, is far more sensitive, and would be virtually impossible to restore.) In a letter to SpaceX's director of starship operations dated June 21, 2021, a US Fish and Wildlife refuge manager described SpaceX's "unauthorized encroachments and trespass on the refuge." (People, homes, historic sites, and protected lands are downrange from Spaceport Camden.) The FAA has recently started Boca Chica’s years' overdue “additional review and input from consulting parties.” Yep, the same “additional review and input from consulting parties” Mr. Murray promises at Spaceport Camden. After 7-years.

And finally, we've wondered why the FAA hasn’t addressed the 800-pound gorilla in the room – Camden's failure to include the Bayer property in the environmental review. How long has the FAA known about Bayer's leaky landfill? Out-of-the-blue, we recently received formerly hidden records that provide at least one possible explanation for the omission of any comprehensive study of the Bayer site. The FAA knows that Bayer property is part of the LaunchPad Hazard Zone. Since 2004, Bayer has been under orders to provide semi-annual groundwater testing for at least one of its landfills. In 2017, seismic testing for the launch site created ground vibrations equal to a 3.9 Richter scale earthquake. And wouldn’t you know it, for the first time since 2004, the semi-annual testing detected an ARSENIC SPIKE to 9,200,000 times the legal limit for drinking water in a shallow Bayer test well. Over our drinking water aquifers! The spike lasted TWO years. That would certainly explain why the Bayer property has been excluded from environmental review. Camden admits there are 10 contaminated sites that have not been investigated. Mr. Murray hasn’t mentioned it, so we doubt the environmental risk can be explained away. But, apparently, either it's been concealed from the FAA, or the FAA chooses to kick that can down the road for an eventual "opportunity for additional review and input."

Call your Commissioner and ask him a few questions:

1. When did you learn there is no rocket small enough for Spaceport Camden?

2. How does a spaceport without rockets provide economic stimulus?

3. How and when will I get my “investment” back?

4. Why should I trust what the County says when the FAA tells a completely different story?

Be assured, taxpayers will be billed by Steve Howard's spaceport “consultants” for the Commissioners' answer scripts.