spencer speaks

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, discussed the proposed Camden spaceport project during a speech Thursday before the Coastal Republican Women’s Club in Brunswick.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, renewed old friendships Thursday when he was invited to be guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Coastal Republican Women’s Club.

He represented all of Camden County and a part of Glynn County during his first term in office in 2010 before his district was redrawn.

Spencer discussed the proposed site for a commercial spaceport in Camden County at an old industrial site he said is ideal for a spaceport. The site was one of the finalists for rocket launches in the 1960s before NASA decided on what is now Kennedy Space Center.

“There is a lot of history there,” he said. “We do have the infrastructure.”

The rapid growth of the commercial space industry is the motivation to establish a spaceport in Camden County, he said.

“Communications and technology are driving the space race,” he said. “They need places to launch rockets and to get payloads into space.”

He compared the current era with a century ago after the Wright brothers ushered in the new era of flight.

Spencer said space flight will become more common in the future, with flights from the United States to Japan in less than two hours.

Spencer said he is optimistic the Federal Aviation Administration will approve the permit to establish a spaceport at the 11,000-acre site in Camden County. There are only two spaceports on the East Coast and the federal government has priority when it comes to scheduling launches at both sites, Spencer said.

“The goal is to to establish a spaceport on the East Coast where they won’t have to compete with the federal government,” he said. “There is a need to get a payload into space.”

There is a small, but vocal opposition to the project, but Spencer said the overwhelming majority of Camden County residents support a spaceport.

“We’re talking high-paying jobs. This will help our tax digest and the economy.”

Any company that operates at the site would be required to follow strict environmental laws, he said.

A spaceport could have a positive impact on surrounding counties, he said. There will not be a facility to test rockets at the site, but Spencer said some of the rural counties nearby have the sites where a facility could be built to support a spaceport.

“We could change the face of our economy,” he said.

Spencer chairs a House subcommittee created to discuss the spaceport and proposed legislation, the Georgia Space Flight Act, which will help protect space companies from some liability issues.

A meeting will be held in Atlanta on Aug. 23, followed by one at the College of Coastal Georgia in Kingsland beginning 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 13. Spencer encouraged the audience to attend the meeting.

“We want to make sure people know what we’re talking about,” he said.

If a spaceport is permitted, Spencer said it won’t take long for the launch and landing pads to be built and a rocket to blast off from the site. He said a decision could be announced by early next year.

“We’re not talking a lot of infrastructure needed,” he said. “The first launch could happen within six months.”

Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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