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Spaceport unwanted

To the Journal editor:

Despite Ms. Lindberg and Mr. Erbish cheerleading for a spaceport launch site at Sawyer using the mantra, “frequent horizontal and vertical launches will be great for our economy,” many feel this is not the type of development that will improve the quality of life for Marquette County residents and visitors. 

What makes Marquette so different and special, and what draws people here to visit and live, is that the volume of the natural world is turned up much more beautifully than in most other places.

People are attracted to Marquette for its natural beauty, natural world sounds and beautiful nighttime dark skies. They are  not seeking the deafening noise of frequent jet and rocket launches and sonic booms. Last summer all the people who found themselves living within a five-mile radius of a Texas spaceport were told they would have to leave their homes when there were launches because overpressure could shatter windows (Brownsville Herald, August 2019).  

The number of low Earth launches being planned in the next few years in order to provide high speed internet access to remote areas in order to facilitate  e commerce is staggering – at least 16,000 satellites and counting (Blomberg News, 2019).

Since this dwarfs the approximately 1600 stars visible with the unaided human eye, the natural beauty of our night sky is scheduled to be replaced by a disco ball of shiny man-made objects.

Heads up astronomers and all those who find spiritual bliss from gazing at a beautiful natural star field on a clear night. Since further expansion of e commerce seems to be the major driving force for these launches, what is the economic impact on local businesses? The amount of space junk orbiting Earth, already a problem,  and space fallout crashing to Earth, is expected to dramatically increase in coming decades (Sky & Telescope, 2019).

I would submit to Ms. Lindberg and Mr. Erbisch that enabling this is not “advancement” for our quality of life here or elsewhere. What is the real cost for all of us? What are we losing in exchange for this “progress”? Just because we can technically do something, does that mean it is wise for us to be doing it, promoting it? This goes much deeper than any narrow economic analysis for Marquette County.

This is an existential crossroads our species now faces on many technological fronts on our small planet.