ATLANTA — Opponents of a planned commercial spaceport in Camden County will get a chance after the holidays to make their case.
A judge in Glynn County granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday blocking Camden County from buying the 4,000-acre tract intended as the site of Spaceport Camden.
County officials said Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett’s ruling doesn’t change any plans for the spaceport.
“Camden County never intended to purchase the Spaceport Camden property before the holidays,” Spaceport Camden spokesman John Simpson said. “The decision by Judge Scarlett moves this issue past the holiday season, and we look forward to presenting our side to the court at that time.”
Scarlett has scheduled a hearing on Jan. 5 to take up a motion for a permanent restraining order blocking the project.
Camden officials have been working on the planned spaceport for more than five years. They gained a major victory on Monday when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order approving a launch site operator license for Spaceport Camden.
Supporters have touted the project as a major jobs generator. The spaceport has been endorsed by Gov. Brian Kemp and most of Georgia’s congressional delegation.
But opponents say firing small rockets from Spaceport Camden over populated areas of Little Cumberland Island would pose a major safety risk. They cite documents submitted by the county that project a likely 20% failure rate for the small rockets that would be launched from the spaceport.
Other interested parties that have expressed reservations over the project include the National Park Service – which operates the Cumberland Island National Seashore – officials at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base at Kings Bay and environmental organizations worried about the spaceport’s impact on a fragile coastal ecosystem.
The court case is being waged by opponents looking to force a voter referendum on the purchase of the launch site property.
Monday’s “record of decision” issued by the FAA isn’t the final say on Spaceport Camden. If the project survives the court challenge and moves forward, each launch would have to be approved separately.
Camden County is planning up to 12 launches per year from the spaceport.