Category Archives: Ethics

MINWR Shiloh Commercial Space Launch Environmental Impact Could Be Epic

Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Hermine brought wind and rain to the Space Coast; very few, if any, skiffs were on the water enjoying the mostly pristine beauty of Mosquito Lagoon.

The serenity of the quiet moment was interrupted when a thunderous series of booms shook the house again and again.

I immediately  went outside to investigate, knowing it wasn’t thunder from a storm band rain shower approaching.

Moments later, social media began to break the story of an “anomaly ” that had just occurred when SpaceX was testing a rocket motor in preparation for an early morning launch on Saturday.

I went to a nearby dock and immediately saw the smoke plume rising to the south, nearly 17 miles away.

Thanks to safety protocols, no human life was lost, nor were there any injuries.  The question that remains is: how much environmental damage might be done by the remnants of rocket fuel that were surely washed into the surrounding marshland when a deluge of water was applied to extinguish the massive fire.

Currently, Space Florida is awaiting an environmental impact study’s completion in an effort to bring just such a launch site to the MINWR, just 5-7 miles south of my home along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon.  I hope that a fully transparent and objective study includes the aftermath of this incident in the study.  The area being considered is home to many endangered and threatened species and is opposed by US Fish & Wildlife staff that run the Refuge.

Environmental Impact Study Pending
Environmental Impact Study Pending

Yesterday was a wake-up call.  Space flight remains a risky business and with that in mind, I remain opposed to the Commercial Launch Facility that is proposed.

Shiloh Commercial Spaceport

In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center, near Daytona. The site – known as “Shiloh,” which is largely unpopulated at this time, would be developed into a dedicated commercial spaceport. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana communicated his support to the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2013 for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study of the site. Today, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is working with the State of Florida to complete the Environmental Impact Study, which is anticipated to be complete by late 2015. Following the successful completion of that study, Space Florida will submit a formal application to the FAA for consideration of a Spaceport Operators License at the site.

I support the creation of a new launch facility on the current NASA campus where infrastructure already exists to respond to and manage the next inevitable “anomaly” when it occurs.

Continue to stay engaged on this issue and have your voice heard saying No Shiloh Launch Complex.  The MINWR needs to remain pristine and clean.

 

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Have you ever found a special place on the water that seems to be that out of the way location which always produces days that leave you smiling?  You know, the one I’m talking about, that lonely slice of water that takes a bit of effort to reach, where you never see another soul.

The truth is, you’re not the only one that knows where it is, its just that the effort to get there limits even you and it it quickly becomes the spot reserved for special days when solitude is required and you know it can be found there, if you’re in the mood to work for it.

After a while, you’ve grown so fond of your out of the way slice of heaven that you take someone along to show them the unreal beauty and charm your little Shangri-La possesses.  Even though that little voice in the back of your head cautions you to keep it to yourself, you convince yourself it will be kept in confidence, so off you go.

The magic is in the air and the birds are chirping as you and your guest revel in the moments where your rod is bent and fish come to hand in a way that never happens on a normal day, in the usual spots.  You keep reminding them that the place you’re visiting is special and warrants secrecy, hoping that your trust won’t be betrayed.

By day’s end, you know that you’ve shared a truly special place and time and the allure of it is almost fairytale in its splendor, which makes you nervous.

As you finish a beer with your friend, they thank you for the special day and reassure you that the secret is going to be kept.  They express reverence for the location, and pour on the charm letting you know its safe.

A month or two later, it happens.  There in all of its glory, laid bare for the world to see on Instagram or Facebook is the spot you’ve cherished for so long.  That place you’ve always held dear and protected. Your pulse quickens, and in mere moments, you know its over, the secret is out.

The temptation was too great for the person who didn’t earn it.  They were given the privilege, and without the investment of sweat equity, they gave it away.

Worse yet, they begin to abuse it.  Almost weekly at first, them more and more often, until its not just the recipient of your friendly benevolence, but now others are there and posting about too.

Forgiving those who trespass against you is tough.  But truth be told, its best that you do, for they know not what they’re doing.  The  luster will fade on that place of beauty in due time, for once its been burned, the patina of overuse will erase it.

Don’t despair, but rather, channel your efforts in finding your next quiet corner and remember, Loose Lips Sink Ships.