Spaceport Camden is a proposed commercial spaceport in Camden County, Georgia, adjacent to Cumberland Island National Seashore. In the early 1960s the 4000 acre site hosted a test of the largest solid rocket motor ever fired. Since then the site has been used for manufacturing munitions and pesticides. Union Carbide, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, owns the site and entered into an Environmental Covenant with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to prevent disturbance of the contaminated soils, thereby allowing the company to forego comprehensive remediation of the unexploded ordnance and munitions and pesticide manufacturing wastes that are widely distributed throughout the property. Despite citizen opposition, Camden County commissioners intend to purchase the contaminated Union Carbide/Dow property, and the County Administrator has entered into secret negotiations with Bayer CropScience to also purchase the adjacent 7000 acre parcel. Camden County has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation to obtain a Launch Site Operator License even though it's unlikely that an individual rocket launch could ever be licensed because every flight corridor overflies Cumberland Island National Seashore.
In November 2012, the Camden County Joint Development Authority voted unanimously to "explore developing an aero-spaceport facility" at an Atlantic coastal site to support both horizontal and vertical launch operations, in hopes of attracting a SpaceX launch facility. SpaceX selected a location near Brownsville, Texas for its launch site. In June 2015 the county authorized environmental studies of the former Thiokol industrial location to pursue the development of a spaceport. At the time, it was believed that the site, comprising 4,000 acres (1,600 ha), could see launches begin by 2020.
In 2016 and 2017, despite opposition from Camden County residents concerned about the dismal performance of every commercial spaceport in the country, the likely disruption or destruction of Cumberland Island National Seashore, and the strong possibility of injuries and damage to people and property from launches, Camden County pursued state legislation to prevent nuisance complaints and limit launch operator liability. These efforts were unsuccessful, although an unnamed act was passed that would require space tourists to sign away their right to sue, similar to the legal protection afforded to ski area operators or whitewater rafting outfitters. Camden County has never prepared a business plan for a spaceport and has never provided any evidence that a spaceport would succeed commercially, provide jobs, attract industry, or avoid the need for massive government subsidies.
In June 2018, the FAA, the US regulatory agency for spaceports, issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the spaceport. Over 15,000 comments were submitted, and the FAA has yet to provide any updates on the DEIS status.
Facilities and operations
|The Vector-R is launched at Spaceport Camden.|
The proposed facilities at Spaceport Camden include a vertical launch site, a landing facility, and a control center. Camden County imagines hosting up to twelve launches and twelve landings a year, although no commercial spaceport in the US has ever hosted more than 2 launches in a calendar year.
In April 2017, Vector Space Systems announced that they would use the Spaceport Camden site to conduct a suborbital rocket test that summer. On 2 August 2017, their amateur rocket was launched from a trailer parked near the site to an altitude of 5000 ft.
|Launch||Date (UTC)||Vehicle||Payload||Launch pad||Result||Remarks|
|1||2 August 2017, 17:15||Vector-R||Imaging and medicinal research||Harriett’s Bluff Road||Success|||
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- "Vector Successfully Launches First Ever Rocket from Spaceport Camden". PR Newswire. Cision. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Dickson, Terry (3 August 2017). "Small rocket flies from planned Spaceport Camden". The Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville, FL. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Official website