FAA Delays Spaceport Decision | Local News


The countdown to a final decision on a license for a commercial spaceport in Camden County was T-24 hours and was running on Wednesday when it was suspended.

The new countdown is five weeks and counting, with a final decision from the Federal Aviation Administration expected on November 3.

The decision to delay the decision record was “due to ongoing consultation efforts,” said Steve Kulm, an FAA spokesperson.

John Simpson, a spokesperson for Spaceport Camden, said the FAA is still assessing the license application.

“We understand that the FAA is still working to ensure that all I’s are pointed and T’s are crossed and remain optimistic for a final decision on Spaceport Camden in a few weeks,” he said.

Steve Weinkle, a Camden County resident who lives within 10 miles of the proposed launch site, said he was not surprised by the latest delay. He said the county had spent the past three years “pointing the I’s at the T’s” in an attempt to convince the FAA to grant a license.

“It makes perfect sense. The FAA has great difficulty authorizing a spaceport for an imaginary rocket and a fictitious trajectory. No real rocket launched from Spaceport Camden can meet legal standards for human and environmental safety, ”he said.

The FAA failed to fix the problem in 2015 and now finds itself trying to “cover up its mistakes of the past by allowing Camden to proceed with a computer-generated model instead of an existing rocket, or even a rocket that might be available for the foreseeable future. ,” he said.

Now Weinkle has said the FAA is held accountable for why it would allow a spaceport with “clear and present dangers.”

Weinkle said the county would never recoup the more than $ 10 million it spent to establish a spaceport, even if it obtains a launch site operator license. He believes a rocket will never be launched into orbit from the site due to the risks posed to Cumberland Island and Little Cumberland Island during a launch malfunction.

Another opponent who believes the FAA sees more problems with the claim is Kevin Lang, an Athens lawyer whose family owns property on Little Cumberland Island.

The FAA must respond to concerns from the National Park Service and the lack of public engagement in the licensing process, he said.

“It is important to note that the Home Office does not agree with the FAA’s position that any in-depth analysis of rocket launch impacts may be delayed at some point in the future if a rocket company shows up to use the spaceport, ”Lang said. . “The Home Office has rightly concluded that the operation of the spaceport is an action linked to the license of the site and must be properly analyzed at this stage of the regulatory process. They are right, because the law clearly supports their position.

In a letter to the FAA, Interior Ministry officials called for a revised proposal “that avoids and minimizes potential damage to ministry resources.”

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