Longtime plans to build a spaceport in Camden County, Georgia have been thrown into jeopardy after county voters overwhelmingly voted to reject the idea.
The spaceport: Camden County lawmakers began working on plans for Spaceport Camden in 2012. The site for the vertical-launch facility borders northern Florida, a strategic location to access resources from Florida’s Space Coast. If approved, the spaceport would be the thirteenth operational spaceport in the US and the third East Coast vertical-lift facility. So far, officials in Camden County have spent $10.3M on the project.
- Proponents say the spaceport would bring the space industry—and all the jobs and tourism that go with it—to Camden County.
In Dec. 2021, the FAA approved an operating license for the spaceport, but there were strings attached: a judge ordered that the county hold a referendum on whether to purchase the land for the spaceport.
The opposition: The citizens of Camden County worry about safety risks and the threat to the local environment. The spaceport site is located over an old industrial facility that once produced rocket fuel, among other things. Opponents to the spaceport have argued that the land is contaminated and unsafe to launch from. The site is also nearby Cumberland Island, and voters worry that exploding rockets would rain debris down onto the wildlife that lives there.
The referendum: According to unofficial election results reported by First Coast News, 72.12% of residents voted no on the spaceport, and 27.88% voted yes.
Camden County officials are pressing to overturn the vote. They called on the Georgia Court of Appeals to pause certification of the election. The case has been passed to the Georgia Supreme Court.
The lesson: Check in with your neighbors before you spend a decade and $10.3M on your spaceport dreams.