Commentary: “Spaceport America” has lost another potential client to a rival.
Earlier this week, Vector Space Systems, “a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware,” signed an agreement with Spaceport Camden to “conduct a sub-orbital flight test of Vector’s full-scale launch vehicle, the Vector-R, as early as this summer.”
Last year, California-based Vector picked Arizona for its new manufacturing facility. Now it plans to send staffers flying over New Mexico on their way to test rockets in southeast Georgia.
The Land of Enchantment’s taxpayers are accustomed to Spaceport America falling on its face, but in this case, the defeat is particularly bitter.
Spaceport Camden, you see, doesn’t exist.
The site, which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described in 2015 as “pine stands and coastal swamps where wild boars, armadillos and rattlesnakes roam,” has no infrastructure. The feds haven’t issued an operator license. And eco-activists, as well as local homeowners, are fighting the proposed spaceport.
In contrast, Spaceport America has “unique geographic benefits,” “basic operational infrastructure such as an airfield, launch pads, hangars, emergency response capabilities, 24/7 security, utilities and roadways,” and is “capable of accommodating the activities of both vertical and horizontal takeoff space launch vehicles, serving as the base for pre-flight and post-flight activities, and providing a tourism experience for interested visitors and spectators.”
Nice, but evidently, not enough. Vector prefers to test its launch vehicle in Georgia. Think New Mexico’s economic-development bureaucrats are interested in finding out why?