KINGSLAND, Georgia (AP) – A federal agency on Monday granted a license for a launch pad that would fly commercial rockets off the coast of Georgia.
Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of a launch site operator’s license for Spaceport Camden marks a milestone for the Georgia space project, although many reviews and permits are required before any rocket can actually be launched. .
A Camden County leader said Monday the project propels Georgia into the space race that has seen civilians and celebrities fly into space in recent months.
“This once in a generation opportunity will provide a new frontier of economic prosperity for Camden, the region and the state of Georgia,” said Steve Howard, Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden Executive Project Manager, in a statement after the announcement of the FAA’s decision. .
“Georgia is part of the new space race and we will be one of the leaders,” Howard added.
Even with the license, the FAA says more comprehensive reviews would be needed before rockets can be launched.
In its 36-page decision released on Monday, the FAA said it had taken into account potential impacts on the climate and the environment, public comment and the agency’s responsibility to encourage and promote launches. commercial space by the private sector.
“Rising sea levels and other climate changes, such as increasing extreme weather events, could affect the spaceport in the years to come,” the FAA wrote in its report.
The land where the spaceport would be built is approximately 7 nautical miles (11 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean.
The FAA has also consulted with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the protection of animal species, including the eastern black rail, a small marsh bird.
Camden County has spent almost 10 years and $ 10 million on the project. Opponents have gone to court to try to prevent the county from buying land for the spaceport and this litigation is ongoing.
About 3,800 people signed a petition calling for a referendum that would allow voters to decide whether the county can buy the property.
“Almost from the start, the FAA’s review of Spaceport Camden has been fraught with factual and legal errors,” Brian Gist, senior counsel for the Southern Environmental Law Center said Monday. “We will carefully review the FAA’s decision to ensure that it fully complies with all applicable laws.”
The National Park Service and its parent agency, the US Department of the Interior, have also expressed concerns.
In a July 22 letter to the FAA, the Home Office said a chance of a rocket explosion – with flaming debris raining down on wilderness on Cumberland Island – creates an “unacceptable risk” . Cumberland Island, with its wild horses and nesting sea turtles, is a popular tourist area off the Georgian coast.
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