After more than four years of studies and public hearings, the fate of a proposed spaceport in Camden County could be determined by the end of this year.
Stacey Zee, an official with the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an email that a decision will be made on a launch site operator’s license by Dec. 16.
The ongoing environmental impact statement, or EIS, is scheduled for completion in November, followed by Record of Decision by the end of the year. An exact date for the final EIS release will be set at a later time.
The FAA is currently consulting with other agencies to ensure compliance with special purpose environmental laws and regulations including the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act and the Department of Transportation Act Section 4(f).
The proposed project has generated strong opinions from supporters and opponents.
A 90-day public comment period that ended in June for the draft EIS generated more than 15,000 comments, many of which were form letters from three different organizations.
“We have been reviewing the comments and developing responses as well as updating the EIS in response to comments, as appropriate,” Zee said.
Supporters, including the business community and prominent local, state and federal elected officials, say a spaceport will generate high-tech jobs, improve STEM education programs locally and help local economies throughout the region.
Opponents say the FAA will never approve launches because of the risk to residents living on Cumberland and Little Cumberland islands, where rockets would have to fly over to reach orbit.