Launch pad bad policy

To the Journal editor:

May 15 was the 20th launch of the Electron, the best-in-class rocket used in plans for Marquette’s launch pad on Lake Superior.

This rocket failed two minutes after leaving ground, spewing it’s second stage, batteries, and two commercial satellites into the Pacific Ocean near the launch.

Is this failure unusual? Electron launches have failed 3 times in these 20 attempts. (www.spacelaunchreport.com) Ironically, one of these failures was just three weeks before MAMA announced the proposed launch pad in Marquette County. MAMA has not mentioned this part of the space industry and the real risks for people within and outside of the “hazard zone” including boaters, kayakers, canoeists, commuters, commercial truckers and users of our increasingly famous recreation corridor.

MAMA promises 20-plus launches per year. How many will explode on the ground or in near-air? The second-best-in class rocket, the Astra Rocket, is much newer in the developmental learning curve, and has failed every launch attempt.

The YouTube videos from observers show a massive explosion on Sept. 12, from a rocket aborted as it wobbled early in flight, and crashed on nearby land carrying much of it’s kerosene rocket fuel.

Jobs? A similar facility on Kodiak Island, Alaska, has been in operation since 1998. It has hosted an average of one launch a year stated Mark Lester, CEO, in an interview broadcast Nov.11.

That northern latitude launch site has 5 launch pads…..lots of unused capacity. The nearest town, Kodiak, with a population like Negaunee, is 45 miles away. This “spaceport complex” employs 10-15 people, none have technical or engineering degrees.

Lester says, “We need people to dig in the ground, to keep the lights on, local tradesperson work.” The highly paid aerospace professionals are elsewhere, at rocket companies, military sites, and control centers.

Owned by the state of Alaska, this site has not blossomed a large economic boom for the state, it is just hanging on. It was shut down from 2014 to 2016 after a launch explosion destroyed the launch pad and several buildings.

I think Kodiak’s residents were glad for the distance between the launch pad and their homes and businesses.

This Marquette launch pad, close to the largest city in the U.P., closer to a booming area of the county’s exceptional recreational opportunities, will not bring an “improved quality of life” to us, as MAMA repeatedly claims with no reasonable justification. This is a bad deal.

Marquette County, pay attention to reality, not to a sales pitch. Just say no!


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