Georgia: The Next Great Space State
Georgia is a great aerospace state with over 800 companies and 88,000 workers in some aspect of the business.
We are a world leader in aerospace exports and have many of the world’s leading aerospace companies. When analyzing these capabilities, however, we find that our strength is in the aeronautics side of the ledger, but we also have great assets and capabilities on the astronautics side that have not been explored, developed or marketed.
Most Georgians don’t know or remember that in 1960, when NASA was looking for a location for the nation’s launch facility, Georgia was on the short list. But NASA picked Cape Canaveral.
What has happened to the area surrounding Cape Canaveral since 1960? It was a sparsely populated ribbon of sand with alligators, sea grass, mom and pop businesses and 17,000 people in the entire county when it was chosen by NASA. Today, it is a thriving, developed area with high-tech businesses, homes, churches, shopping, highly educated people in high paying jobs, a nation-leading tourist trade and 700,000 people.
That could have been Georgia.
In the 1960s, the largest engine rocket was tested in Camden County and we made history then. Let’s make history again by developing a world-class spaceport that will create a competitive advantage for Georgia to become the leader in the aerospace marketplace.
Seldom in life do you get a second chance, but today Georgia has a second chance with space.
Camden County is working on creating Spaceport Camden on a property that many in the commercial space industry call the finest property in the country for a fully commercial spaceport. It has every characteristic required by commercial space companies.
It is remote, but not too remote. It has cities with city amenities nearby. It has all necessary infrastructure such as roads, power, fiber and water.
The location is coastal with launch capability immediately over water. It also has a large area for manufacturing, a five-star resort complex and a world-class conference center nearby. Combine that with the assets that have made us a leading aeronautics state, and you have hit a bottom of the 9th, come from behind, bases loaded home run.
It is imperative that we recognize this opportunity and set a direction for Georgia as a space state. Will there be risk? Will there be costs? Sure, but anything worthwhile has risks and costs. The costs of creating Spaceport Camden are actually relatively low, but the benefits to Georgia are potentially enormous.
We have the opportunity to create the “Silicon Valley” of Georgia in our southeastern corner of the state that is sometimes forgotten. We have been given a second chance to bring high tech jobs and all of the spin-off jobs that come from those new enterprises to our state.
Perhaps becoming a space destination is our destiny. We have a choice. Achieving that destiny of becoming a space destination begins right now. There is a small window of opportunity, and we cannot have our children and grandchildren reap the benefits of this decision tomorrow if we do not make the decision to press forward today.
State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, represents District 180, which includes Camden, Charlton and Ware counties.