Peaches In Space!!!

April 18, 2013 9:03 am

by Nathan · 32 comments

Ok, we might not be able to grow peaches in space….yet (hello, aeroponics!), but it’s possible south Georgia could launch some into space if we land a bid for SpaceX to build a spaceport.  Michael Mealling and Bob Scaringe pen two separate editorials on Rick Badie’s AJC blog.  According to Michael, Georgia was the 2nd choice for the spaceport now in Cape Canaveral, FL back during the ’60s.

Georgia now has a 2nd chance to get a spaceport.  Is it something worth pursuing?  Perhaps.  NASA has been contracting with private companies to launch supply missions to the International Space Station, and there will probably be plenty of opportunities to utilize a spaceport for space ventures made by private companies.

It’s something that we should at least talk about.  Think of the number of science and technology jobs, as well as the number of supporting jobs, that would be created.  Before you know it, you’ll start hearing on your scanner: “someone go find the matches….we’re gonna launch this thing.”

Engage!*

*I did happen to have Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s breakfast of coffee and croissant this morning, but that was merely coincidental.

Engineer April 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

This is a great opportunity for high tech jobs in Southeast Georgia and for Northeastern Florida. The governors of Georgia and Florida would be wise to work together on this to prevent a state like Texas from taking it.

greencracker April 18, 2013 at 10:26 am

Space X is cool. No doubt.

You know what else is cool? Tracking the efficacy of any kind of tax break, sweetener etc the state gives to industry.

Baker April 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm

YES!! “You know what else is cool? Tracking the efficacy of any kind of tax break, sweetener etc the state gives to industry.”

I will happily stand corrected if I can be shown some believable numbers on this, but I would be highly highly dubious. What if we had a place where there no credits whatsoever?

What if the rates were dramatically lower because there weren’t boondoggle credits coming every which way? Oh, my mistake, that would be tax reform and no politician really, despite what they say (save our man Buzz), wants to do that.

In other news, some place is sending Pigs in Spaaace:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYjbkRktqIE
Your welcome.

mmealling April 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

greencracker,
In this case they help but Elon is more interested in operational efficiencies, infrastructure, and a business friendly legal environment. Florida is offering $10 million and Texas is offering $6.2 million on top of waivers of state taxes, free land, etc. The economic impact to South Georgia would vastly outweigh just about any incentive we can offer now.

greencracker April 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

I always hear companies are very interested in a business-friendly legal environment.

But where are “nice schools” and “quality of life” and “awesome community” on the want list? I mean, California is proverbially business unfriendly, but, uh … Silicon Valley, Pacific climate, mad awesome colleges and lots of immigrants make up for a lot.

I mean, I’m honestly curious. If South Georgia [minus the coast] is so awesome, why do people move away from it?

Engineer April 18, 2013 at 11:55 am

Simply put, lack of jobs for people with college degrees.

mmealling April 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm

As Engineer says its lack of jobs. Like I said in the article, I grew up down there but moved to Atlanta to be a technology entrepreneur.

In this particular case other considerations trump those. Rockets don’t care about the attributes that Silicon Valley has. SpaceX will still keep their location in Hawthorne, CA. What rockets want are remote, uninhabited areas that are still accessible. Launching over water is a plus for insurance and air traffic reasons. Being close to the equator is good for orbital mechanics reasons. Camden County is a perfect location for launching rockets.

So if you want high paying technology businesses along that coast this is one of the very few industries that need what Camden County has.

greencracker April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Rural counties & college-degree jobs, offhand I know rural counties have a lack of doctors especially specialists, lawyers and CPAs.

Bless our hearts, if there’s a spaceport, may it indeed spread prosperity into Jesup, Waycross, et al. If I worked for someone and they said “pack your bags, you’re moving to Camden County, GA!” Um. Well, I like St. Mary’s (and the infrastructure spawned around the base) … but elsewhere I’d ask how fast is my home Internet, what classes will my kid take at school and how much will I have to drive per day?

Maybe it’s a chicken-and-egg thing. But honestly, I don’t know, and I am curious, how much quality of life stuff matters to companies scouting spots? They’re the ones who will have to live there.

Of course, if quality of life mattered, they wouldn’t be making German cars in Alabama!
(I’m kidding! [I’m not kidding])

Buzz Brockway April 18, 2013 at 11:38 am

I like the idea. Let’s do it!

Here’s a video from SpaceX’s launch sending their spaceship to the International Space Station. Very cool.

George Chidi April 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm

It’s not all just weather, population density and equatorial distance: there are lovely parts of Brazil and Kenya that fit the bill quite well, too.

Now, granted, if I didn’t think space science was a profound moral and practical duty, a holy obligation for humanity, I might question the financial return on investment of the whole shooting match. Elon Musk, a founding don of the amoral PayPal Mafia, will find a way to make money here … or at least, not lose it. But I would be quite careful from the perspective of state negotiation team about what metrics are used to measure performance benchmarks. There hasn’t been a shark of Musk’s caliber in these waters since Ted Turner.

Georgia Tech is a big part of the equation. We build rocket engineers here and have a substantial aerotech industry in place in the state. The recruiting difficulty to get highly-educated engineering types to locate in the middle of rural nowhere is reduced. This doesn’t work if the spaceport can’t grow an industry cluster. If the incentives result in development of a port that is utterly dependent on one sole employer, it won’t attract the talent necessary to be successful: the right engineers won’t risk career problems and the practical expenses of job transitioning unless they can network effectively with their peers in the industry. The venture capital looking for other opportunities to invest will have the same view of it.

Engineer April 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

While there is still a lot of vacant land in Camden County it isn’t quite as rural as you would think. The southern end near Kingsland and St. Marys is fairly populated. Plus it is less than an hour from the beaches at Jekyll, St. Simons, and Fernidina, and from the malls and big city comforts and entertainment in Jacksonville, FL (no worse than driving from McDonough or Woodstock to Atlanta for an event or restaurant).

The location they are looking at is actually located near the mouth of the Satilla River. If they went thru with it, you could literally watch rockets taking off while sitting across Saint Andrew Sound on the beaches at Jekyll.

George Chidi April 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Compare that to being an hour from Los Angeles or an hour from Houston. There are people who would think that Jacksonville compares favorably. That is a minority group, I wager, among the geeky rocket scientist crowd.

Culture. I suspect that’s going to be a factor here. If this happens, the area had better be prepared to accept a shift to an Austin state of mind.

greencracker April 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Lord have mercy, I would not drive from McDonough to Atlanta for an event or a restaurant. I’d learn to love local music and cook for myself. That is far.

drjay April 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

so what, you wouldn’t go to braves game on a friday night for instance? even from our relatively close sav’h suburbs some places you want to go can be half an hour a way…

greencracker April 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

O man, I live 5.5 miles from Turner Field. I’ve gotten really used to not driving far … I don’t even like going to distant, distant Buckhead, lol. #spoiled

But OTOH, nobody’s offering me a fancy science job anywhere anyway.

David Staples April 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

So I take it you don’t go to Six Flags or Stone Mountain…

greencracker April 19, 2013 at 11:26 am

I mean, I’ve _been_ to both places, though it’s been prolly 15 years for the first, two or three or so for the second.

I have a car, I’ve driven since I was 16, I’m from here, not a car-hater. Heck, I even love my car. But my life and work are aligned such that I don’t spend much time driving. It’s turned out pretty luxurious.

Engineer April 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Remember, Silicon Valley, and the space coast didn’t really start out as geek favorable either. Plus, a warm climate and being close to the beach can’t hurt.

Rick Day April 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

a shift to an Austin state of mind.

You say that as if it were a bad thing, George.

George Chidi April 18, 2013 at 11:43 pm

It’s not, from my perspective. But I can’t speak for someone from southeast Georgia.

John Vestal April 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Would be quite the coup for Georgia to end up with both SpaceX and SpaceY….gee!

Nathan April 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Are you saying that we would control both the horizontal and the vertical?

John Vestal April 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm
Rick Day April 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm

::note to self::: Nathan is no nerd.

Nathan, you have your captains crossed.

Janeway was the coffee capitan.

Picard?

Tea, Earl Gray; hot

-Your community Klingon

Nathan April 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Rick, don’t you remember that episode of TNG where Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher were linked together psychically? Just saying.

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Croissant

Rick Day April 18, 2013 at 11:22 pm

from your own source:

n 2370, Picard and Crusher agreed on coffee and croissants for breakfast everyday while they were linked together by the psi-wave device on the planet Kesprytt III. (TNG: “Attached”)

That, my friend, is called a “onesie”. You may get no argument about the pastries but Picard was definitely an Earl Gray man.

Good catch on that one, you must have just seen the episode LOL

Nathan April 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

I agree that Picard was a Earl Gray man and that Janeway was the coffee captain most of the time.

It’s my story, and I’m sticking to it my friend. :)

saltycracker April 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

Cape Canaveral – Large tract of already secure property, infrastructure in place, large high tech population, many established high tech related industries, military bases, nearby cities/airports/rails/ports/Interstates and hundreds of thousands of supportive folks that gather along the populated coastal areas for over a 100 miles @ direction to witness every launch.

saltycracker April 19, 2013 at 10:14 am

P.S. Private industry has some opportunities in the Cape Canaveral area as the NASA budget continues to be cut and Obama wanting NASA’s focus to be to build relations with Muslim nations. Lots of resources around there looking for options.

George Chidi April 19, 2013 at 10:59 am

“and Obama wanting NASA’s focus to be to build relations with Muslim nations.” I know you’re referring to Bolden’s comments three years (!) ago about outreach, which have been reverberating in the conservative echo chamber since then. Two notes on that: One, countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia have cash and are reaping the benefits of space technology but aren’t contributing in proportion. A little diplomatic outreach can close some budget gaps there. And two: Space technology serves to better human civilization, and it’s harder to blow someone up when you’re in a state of fellowship built on shared exploration of the universe. (Not impossible, but I think less likely.) Muslims that identify with science, I think, would be substantially less likely to adopt Islamic extremism and more likely to adopt a sense of scientific rationalism.

Of course, for folks in a party still struggling to reconcile their views on evolution with modern scientific understanding, I can see how that might be threatening …

saltycracker April 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

My points were entirely of reasons and opportunities to stick with Cape Canaveral.
Readers can take the Obama admin remark – factual, by the way – any way they want – it’s weird or it might get some Saudi money (I think it is weird).
Maybe it will add to the long (snark) list of Science & Nobel prizes they have.
George continues to see the world only from his extreme bias.

Noway April 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Salty, you mean you aren’t proud of the 10 Muslims who have one a Nobel Prize, the first being Sadat? I mean, out of the 800+ that have been awarded, I think their 10 is an outstanding achievement!

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