FAA license boosts Georgia spaceport, but more reviews ahead

<p><p>KINGSLAND, Ga. — A federal agency on Monday granted a license for a launchpad that would fly commercial rockets from coastal Georgia.</p></p><p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of a launch site operator license for Spaceport Camden marks a significant milestone for the Georgia space project, though many reviews and permits are needed before any rockets can actually launch.</p></p><p><p>A Camden County leader said Monday that the project propels Georgia into the space race that’s seen civilians and celebrities flown into space in recent months.</p></p><p><p>“This once in a generation opportunity will provide a new frontier of economic prosperity for Camden, the region and the state of Georgia,” Steve Howard, Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden executive project lead, said in a statement after the FAA’s decision was announced.</p></p><p><p>“Georgia is part of the new space race, and we will become one of the leaders,” Howard added.</p></p><p><p>Even with the license, the FAA says that a more comprehensive review would be needed before any rockets can be launched.</p></p><p><p>Camden County has spent nearly 10 years and $10 million on the project. Opponents have gone to court to try to block the county from purchasing land for the spaceport and that litigation is ongoing.</p></p><p><p>About 3,800 people have signed a petition calling for a referendum that would let voters decide whether the county can buy the property.</p></p><p><p>The National Park Service and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, also have expressed concerns.</p></p><p><p>In a July 22 letter to the FAA, the Interior Department said a chance of rockets exploding — with fiery debris raining down on wilderness land on Cumberland Island – creates an “unacceptable risk.” Cumberland Island, with its wild horses and nesting sea turtles, is a popular tourist area off the Georgia coast.</p></p>