It’s likely you’ve heard about the jet that lost engine parts over Denver on Saturday. If you’ve seen the videos, you saw large airplane engine parts falling out of the sky onto neighborhood streets, pickup trucks, and punching holes in roof tops.
Media reports about Kirby Klements’ experience on the ground in Denver reinforce the entire public concern about rockets over Camden County:
Kirby Klements was inside with his wife when they heard a huge booming sound, he said. A few seconds later, the couple saw a massive piece of debris fly past their window and into the bed of Klements' truck, crushing the cab and pushing the vehicle into the dirt.
He estimated the circular engine cowling at 15 feet (4.5 meters) in diameter [….] “If it had been 10 feet different, it would have landed right on top of the house,” he said in a phone interview with the AP. “And if anyone had been in the truck, they would have been dead.”
Somebody Else’s Home:
The entire Pratt and Whitney jet engine weighs about as much as Camden’s fully fueled hypothetical rocket. But in the Denver accident, the 777 landed with most of the engine still intact. No rocket will land in Camden intact since that is considered “worst case” and Camden says they will blow the rocket up rather than let it land as a huge bomb. Every rocket accident will be a “total” with far more debris than landed in Denver last Saturday.
Back to Klements:
“Fine pieces of the fiberglass insulation
used in the airplane engine fell from the sky "like ash” for about 10 minutes, he said, and several large chunks of insulation landed in his backyard.”
Camden’s risk and environmental hazard analysis ignores all the small debris fragments “like ash” that are not big enough to cause a human casualty. That’s where the harm to Georgia’s coast comes in. All that stuff will land in our waters, our beaches, our forests, or in the Cumberland Island Wilderness. It will come down. A lot will sink. Some will get eaten. It won’t be recoverable like it would be in Klements’ backyard. Does Camden’s safety and environmental tests assume an entire rocket’s worth of debris won’t be a problem simply because they can ignore most of the wreckage? THE FAA ALLOWS THAT.
What Camden citizens and State decision makers need to understand is that the chance of a similar event from a rocket launch is 68,892 times more likely than Saturday’s airplane accident. Proof is found in the FAA and National transportation Safety Board statistics. (The complete analysis and raw facts are here).
Simply put, Spaceport Camden is the wrong place for rocket launches. It is too dangerous for humans, Cumberland Island National Seashore, and Georgia’s Coast.
Only by downsizing to a non-existent tiny rocket could Spaceport Camden promoters make the numbers work. And the FAA has a loophole for that. Just like the FAA quickly excused SpaceX’s intentional launch violation in December, they are willing to accept Camden’s incomplete, inaccurate, and hypothetical proposal.
The following statement is just one of the hundreds of problems still found in Camden’s proposal. Camden’s experts, the FAA reviewers, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (“GaDNR”) failed to catch the error. The statement supposedly justifies allowing Camden to reveal only part of the information about risks because they do not have complete information (“phased concurrence”). Essentially, they’re saying, “We’ll tell you what GaDNR needs to know when we find out.” What makes the following statement a joke is that the Federal Law they reference does not exist.
From Camden’s exact statement on page 15 of the Coastal Consistency Determination to GaDNR:
“The County, FAA, and GDNR have agreed to a phased concurrence process, wherein the County will provide GDNR with information necessary for GDNR to make a reasoned decision on the consistency of the proposed project (see 15 CFR § 930.58(3)(c)) as the project moves through the development and operational phases.”
15 CFR § 930.58(3)(c) does not exist.
Here’s a LINK to the entire Georgia Code section, but which section are they writing about?
15 CFR § 930.58.a.(3)(c) states:
(3) An evaluation that includes a set of findings relating the coastal effects of the proposal and its associated facilities to the relevant enforceable policies of the management program. Applicants shall demonstrate that the activity will be consistent with the enforceable policies of the management program. Applicants shall demonstrate adequate consideration of policies which are in the nature of recommendations. Applicants need not make findings with respect to coastal effects for which the management program does not contain enforceable or recommended policies.
If Camden cannot get approval using a real rocket as its example, how can they demonstrate they have “findings” proving anything except in the science-fiction way?” STILL TRUST THE FAA?
15 CFR § 930.58(3)(c) states:
(c) When satisfied that adequate protection against public disclosure exists, applicants should provide the State agency with confidential and proprietary information which the State agency maintains is necessary to make a reasoned decision on the consistency of the proposal. State agency requests for such information must be related to the necessity of having such information to assess adequately the coastal effects of the proposal.
Camden has proven time and again that they CHOOSE to keep unfavorable information secret from the public and maybe the Navy, the National Park Service, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources unless those agencies ask for it. Does the NPS or GaDNR have rocket experts on staff who realize Camden’s experts make mistakes, selectively disclose information, and keep secrets?
Is Camden confused about the law because they use science fiction and keep secrets?
The Spaceport cannot stand on its own merits. It requires secrecy to move it forward. The FAA is willing to play Camden’s game because they’re complicit through negligence and incompetence and they’ve folded to slight political pressure. The public officials who remain willing accomplices do so because they remain willfully ignorant. They trust authority rather than common sense and facts that only members of the public have been careful enough to discover.
So, what’s the risk?
We’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut you don’t know that a 747 flying with the same-family engine as the Denver 777 also had an engine failure on Saturday: (LINK) in the Netherlands.
Two people were injured.
Two Pratt & Whitney engine failures in one day.
Who thought it possible?
Airplanes have accidents on .00003% of departures.
Small rockets fail on 21.4% of departures.
Counting all small rocket launches since 2006, it will take the next 71,333 small-class rocket launches without a single accident to equal airliner accident rates. THE FAA KNOWS THIS.
A first launch rocket failure over Georgia's coast? It is VERY possible.
Continuing with Spaceport Camden is just another reason not to trust the 'experts' or government competency.