Sunday, February 05, 2017

Federal Aviation Administration provides update on status of proposed Georgia spaceport

WOODBINE, Ga. — The Federal Aviation Administration has been seeking answers to hundreds of questions posed about the proposed Spaceport Camden along Georgia's coast.

After receiving public comments for several weeks, the team assigned to write a draft Environmental Impact Statement began the task of answering questions about the proposed spaceport.

Critics of the project say the FAA has never issued a license for a spaceport to launch rockets over inhabited areas. They say another obstacle is the lack of a private spaceport operator for the site, and question whether anyone would be willing to assume the costs and risks involved with launching rockets over private property.

FAA environmental specialist Stacey Zee said officials have been working to develop the draft Environmental Impact Statement, the Brunswick newspaper reported.

"The team has been working hard over the past few months to develop the draft EIS and write reports based on the cultural resource surveys and wetland surveys that we completed in the fall," Zee said.

A survey has been conducted to determine whether there are any jurisdictional wetlands on the site for the proposed spaceport. The Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with reviewing and verifying the information, she said.

Officials will also consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to discuss endangered species and potential impacts from rocket launches from the site, the newspaper reported.

A timeline for the release of the environmental statement should be announced within two months and another public meeting will be held in Camden County after the draft statement is released.

Kevin Lang, a lawyer and member of the Little Cumberland Island Homeowners Association, said late last year that he believes the project will not pass the environmental studies.

"The FAA has never issued a license for a spaceport to launch rockets over inhabited areas like Little Cumberland Island and Cumberland Island," he told the Brunswick newspaper in December. "For that reason and many others, it seems very unlikely that the FAA will determine that it is safe to launch medium lift class commercial rockets from the proposed spaceport."

However, Camden County Administrator Steve Howard has expressed optimism about the project.

"We are confident that when the license is acquired it will attract the commercial space industry to Camden County, Georgia," he said in December. "But if the FAA says that the site is not meeting their diligent safety standards, then no license will be issued and subsequently no spaceport established."

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