Last August, Vector Space Systems launched its first rocket from the proposed 4,000-acre Spaceport Camden site at the end of Harriett’s Bluff Road in Camden County. For Spaceport Camden to continue similar launches, it must first obtain a Launch Site Operator’s License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) once the environmental review process is complete.
The Camden County government has been pursuing the project going on three years, and the County anticipates 12 vertical launches and up to 12 landings of associated launch vehicle first-stages per year. Other activities considered under the Proposed Action include recovering spent stages at sea that may be barged back to the site for rehabilitation and reuse; 12 static fire engine tests; and up to 12 wet dress rehearsals, which are a pre-launch test to simulate the countdown of a launch, per year.
According to the FAA’s Permitting Dashboard for Spaceport Camden on the progress of the Environmental Impact Study’s (EIS) completion, the site states that the study is expected to be completed sometime in late February of 2018.
At the end of Vector’s successful test launch in August of 2017, the EIS Draft was expected to be finalized sometime in December of 2017. However, according to Spaceport Camden’s spokesperson, Jon Simpson, the draft was delayed until the end of January of 2018 and possibly would not be complete until the end of the first quarter due to internal agencies involved at each step in evaluating the processing and completion of the EIS draft.
According to Simpson, the delays are sometimes caused by many things such as air quality, coastal resources evaluations, land use, and noise to name a few.
“The FAA along with the EIS contractor Leidos are in charge of coordinating these items with each federal agency. If one bureaucracy is slow, the whole process slows down,” said Simpson in a November email reply.
When asked about the new delay of the draft scheduled for the end of February, Simpson said: “We continue to work closely with the FAA and believe the draft EIS is on a glide slope for release in the First Quarter of 2018.”
Currently, the County has spent over $ 5 million to prepare the site which includes almost $2 million placed toward the completion of the Environmental Impact Study draft. Once the draft is completed, there is expected to be public review and comment on the draft.