Environmental concerns challenge states’ space ambitions – Low Calorie Diets Tips

As companies like SpaceX fuel the growing commercial space industry, states and counties across the country are touting themselves as great places to launch satellites and other cargo into space.

“The demand for launches is increasing,” said James Causey, executive director of the Global Spaceport Alliance, a membership organization that supports the planning and operation of such launch sites. “The spaceport infrastructure must grow to meet demand.”

Some local leaders are proposing or helping to fund plans to build spaceports in their regions, hoping to capitalize on the economic potential. Some states have even created space-oriented agencies tasked with helping the industry develop.

But as spaceport proposals proliferate in places like Georgia, Maine and Michigan — far from the states’ long-established launch sites of California and Florida — they are met with fears they could endanger sensitive habitats, public safety and even drinking water. Critics warn that the noise and light generated by launch sites could harm wildlife, and failed launches could spread toxic materials and debris or even cause wildfires.

“Space ports have become an en vogue tool of economic development,” said Brian Gist, senior counsel for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is opposing efforts to set up a launch site in Georgia’s Camden County. “But not every site is a good candidate for a spaceport site, and you have to balance economic development with risk to the public and risk to natural resources.”

Space experts say innovation has reduced the cost of rocket launches, although miniaturization of electronic components has allowed for much smaller satellites. This means more businesses can access space for a wider range of uses, including mapping, internet access, weather forecasting, agricultural monitoring, environmental sensing and vehicle fleet tracking.

“In the past, [building a local spaceport] was unreasonable because a launch site meant large, expensive, and unreliable rockets,” said George Nield, who served as the Federal Aviation Administration’s assistant administrator for commercial space transportation and now runs his own consulting firm. “We’re seeing smaller satellites, smaller rockets, a trend toward reusable space launch systems that could potentially be more reliable.”

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is leading the way in the commercialization of space, and many local officials see the company’s starbase manufacturing and launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas — and its more than 1,600 employees — as the kind of economic engine they want to attract. But Starbase also represents the fears of some environmental groups.

Documents released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service last month showed that SpaceX’s activities have resulted in a decline in endangered plovers in the habitat around its facility, while potentially harming sea turtles and other shorebirds. Environmental groups have drawn attention to these results and have criticized the agency’s mitigation requirements as inadequate. The FAA will announce its decision on the company’s proposal to launch its Starship heavy-lift missile later this month after more than a year of environmental review.

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