Camden County is T minus one to Georgia making its own blastoff within the $330 billion aerospace industry. And this is a county that has a history when it comes to space. It was 56 years ago when the first rocket engine created the propulsion to send the first manned mission to the moon. That engine was tested at a now defunct site in Camden County.
But that was then, and this is now. County Administrator and Spaceport Camden head Steve Howard received word last week that the Federal Aviation Administration has completed the Environmental Impact Study (EIS). That means it is one step closer to Space Port Camden becoming the only non-federal commercial space facility on the East Coast.
The FAA’s website states: “The Spaceport Camden Draft EIS was published for public review and comment on March 8, 2018. Two public hearings were held on April 11 and 12, 2018. The public comment period closed on June 14, 2018. The FAA received over 15,500 comments, the large majority of which were form letters sent by three different organizations. All comments received during the comment period were considered in the preparation of the Final EIS.
On January 15 last year, the county submitted an amended application in which the scope of the project was constrained to small launch vehicles only. Analyses in the Final EIS focus only on small launch capability.”
Howard’s quest to revive the Georgia coast and its potential to a commercial space port has already spanned three U.S. presidents. The dogged pursuit and miles of travel that Howard has performed is absolutely amazing.
When Howard started his journey several years ago to explain his vision of what was possible, he was using video and an article from Life magazine that showed the Apollo boosters being tested at a site adjacent to the natural beauty of Cumberland Island. In fact, NASA actually considered Camden County and its geographic location as a potential site that was eventually was given to Merritt Island, Florida.
Camden County and its extensive Space Port Planning Steering committee entered the public comments/hearing phase of the Environmental Impact Statement in March 2018. Residents have had opportunities to testify or send statements on how the project will impact the environment and habitat. The rugged beauty and economic value of the coast are naturally of great concern. But Merritt Island, which is a federally protected wildlife area around Kennedy Space Center, helped make Space Port Camden’s case that the site can coexist with wildlife and the habitat.
By the way, Georgia Tech is the second leading aerospace engineering school in the U.S. and a recipient of the contract to design the new NASA space suits. Once Space Port Camden is ready to start building, Georgia can become one of the leaders for the nation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from a practical and revenue standpoint.
The FAA will post a decision sometime in July on whether or not to move forward in the Space Port Camden’s licensing process.
W. John Wood, can be found on the sidelines coaching football on Friday night and on the campaign trail Saturday morning. Coaching and teaching history/government for the last 23 years, he has also worked as a professional journalist (print and broadcast) and political/pr consultant for the last 30 years.