Cumberland and Little Cumberland Islands have just become the first communities in America to be directly downrange from a vertical launch spaceport awaiting license approval from the FAA. More than sixty private homes lie in the path of rockets that Camden County commissioners hope someday to launch.
In the history of U.S. space flight, neither NASA nor the FAA have permitted a vertical launch over private homes or people directly downrange. The risk to people and property from an exploding rocket is too great.
On January 29, the Camden County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners filed an application to launch commercial/non-federal rockets over the Cumberland Island National Seashore and Little Cumberland Island. Camden County’s proposal to launch vertical rockets over people and their homes is without precedent in the United States.
According to the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed spaceport, rocket
failures are reasonably expected to occur every 18 months (a 6 percent stated failure rate with 12 proposed launches each year). It will only take one rocket failure to completely destroy Little Cumberland Island and the northern end of Cumberland Island. What other community in America faces the prospect of total destruction every 1.5 years as a result of the actions of its own local government?
Aerospace Corp. was engaged to analyze the risks associated with launching rockets from the proposed site, but Camden County has refused to make the results of the analysis public. Little Cumberland Island Homes Association, Inc., the Southern Environmental Law Center, and other groups and individuals have submitted Georgia Open Records Act requests for public disclosure of the risk analysis for the proposed spaceport. Camden County denied the requests, relying on an inapplicable exception to Open Records Act. This risk analysis contains impact dispersion diagrams of debris fields from rocket explosions all over the National Seashore and the homes of its residents.
For more information on the threats that Spaceport Camden poses to the Cumberland Island National Seashore, please visit ProtectCumberlandIsland.org