A new report commissioned by the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit advises that spaceport access is vital in order for the U.S. to continue to lead in space exploration – a finding that highlights Spaceport Camden’s important role. The report stated, “Our nation’s continued leadership in space may well be determined by whether U.S. launch capacity can be expanded rapidly enough to meet anticipated demand.”
The paper (PDF), authored by the consulting firm Quilty Analytics, discusses the difficult and time-consuming process to make a launch site operational. Importantly, the study found that the majority of US Spaceports are unsuitable for future launch needs because they are horizontal, not vertical launch sites like Spaceport Camden. The study notes, “[d]ue to the inherent performance limitations of horizontal launch, the future space economy will be dependent on vertical launch.” However, “[e]fforts to establish all-new vertical launch sites have historically encountered resistance from environmentalists and local citizenry. SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site required about eight years from initial plans to the first experimental launch, and an effort to develop a new launch site in Camden, GA, has been ongoing since 2012.”
The authors note that FAA is working to streamline launch and reentry licensing requirements and better coordinate airspace with restrictions, which should “support a two-to-three-fold increase in the annual launch cadence.” However, even with this increase in launch capacity they found that “the U.S. will still remain precariously dependent on a handful of key spaceports – a dependency that, if not resolved, will undermine U.S. interests strategically and commercially in the next decade.”
Finally, the authors note that “[f]or an industry accustomed to overcoming ‘rocket science’ challenges, the simple issue of spaceport access may seem like a routine matter, but it could singlehandedly throttle the industry’s long-term growth rate if not properly addressed and resolved.”
“Opponents of Spaceport Camden have tried to sell a tale that Spaceport Camden isn’t necessary. That’s a myth that has now been fully debunked by this Pentagon study,” said Board of County Commissioners Chairman, Gary Blount. “Not only is Spaceport Camden necessary to protect US strategic interests, this catalyst project is of local and regional significance. Spaceport Camden will help fuel Camden’s future prosperity,” added Blount.
Camden County is waiting on the FAA to issue a Record of Decision on its Final Environmental Impact Statement which was published on July 24, 2021. That decision is expected in September 2021.