Rocket Launch Site Coming Soon To A Pristine Coast Near You?

Link to video: The Hidden Problems of Rocket Launch Sites 

Rocket launch sites are popping up all over the planet. Here’s a website where a group of us have been collecting news of such and also the opposition on environmental grounds. Scroll down to read my recent article for Space Alert! about this growing problem.

Also, despite corporate press reports spotted herehere, and here

I do not believe that the approval process for a rocket launch site in Steuben, Maine is a foregone conclusion. 

(All three articles read like a rehash of the same press release without much actual reporting.) I say the proposed site is still up in the air because I found at least two people who live in Steuben or nearby who are opposed to the plan, and don’t believe any public hearings or votes on the subject have been held.

A comment on the Maine Biz article claimed that the town is a “Pinkham family controlled” town. I’m not sure what that entails, but if you can enlighten me I’d love to hear about it.

Space Alert spring/summer 2022 issue – 900 words

Rocket launch sites popping up all over

by Lisa Savage

When you hear the phrase “public-private partnerships” what do you think of  – maybe corporate branding on public university research centers, or billionaires raking in taxpayer-funded subsidies? Both of these associations would be true of an increasingly evident manifestation of such partnerships: the construction of multiple rocket launch sites around the planet. 

Promoters don’t like to call these rocket launch sites. They prefer the public relations value of calling the sites “spaceports” which sounds much more appealing and, not by coincidence, much less military.

In capitalist countries, new launch site construction is always sold as a good way to create jobs. Because sites are necessarily distant from population centers, they’re proposed in communities where jobs for wages are typically scarce. People in places that have already built launch sites, however, found the promised jobs never materialized. A crew of specialists arrive to handle the occasional launch while the only permanent jobs are a few for security guards and custodians.

Space Alert! has previously reported on sites in Indonesia, Guyana, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It should be noted that it is common for nations to use launch sites located in other nations, so enticements like a decade of free internet service are used to persuade economically depressed countries to host a site. What follows is an overview of what we know about proposed launch sites and local resistance to their toxic fallout.

SaxaVord in Unst, Shetland has seen some evidence of a planned launch site including reports of an environmental impact statement that is unavailable online. Shetlanders have shown themselves to be vigorous advocates for environmental conservation in the past, and it’s likely many would oppose a rocket launch site in the island northernmost in Scotland.

Last winter, the Welsh Government released a National Space Strategy for Wales citing job creation in high-skilled technology professions and monetary rewards for locales identified as Cardiff, Newport, Port Talbot, Broughton, Llanbedr (Gwynedd), Aberporth, and Radnorshire. The profiteers included numerous companies specializing in missile technology and military training: Raytheon, Qinetiq, Quioptiq, and Airbus Defence and Space.

Less than half of the 20 “spaceports” listed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration have seen rocket launches so far. These are scattered around the nation including sites in Florida, Texas, Kodiak (Alaska), and New Mexico but there are many more locations proposed. 

Michigan is one of many states where groups are working to develop rocket launch sites. In August of 2021, the state hosted a North American Space Summit to bring together rocket profiteers and investors. Investors at the summit were told that building commercial rocket launch sites could be a “space gold rush” with the chance of creating next-gen Silicon Valley tech profits. But no such sites in the U.S. have been profitable yet. Pentagon watchers theorize that the reason the U.S. military is using grants to encourage the construction of many sites right now is to gain an advantage in bargaining down the price of launching from them.

Still, many Michigan residents are opposing a plan to put a rocket launch site at the edge of Lake Superior. And voters in the state of Georgia recently rejected a plan for Camden County to purchase land to launch commercial rockets. Opponents who forced the referendum expressed concerns about environmental harms and safety risks.

Where I live in the U.S. we recently organized to oppose the creation of a public-private partnership called the Maine Space Corporation. A bill was rushed through a public hearing without notice and passed by the lower house of the Maine legislature without a roll call vote. Why the urgency? To create a public structure that allowed private corporations and public universities to apply for grants from the federal government in order to develop sites. One of the aerospace companies involved already had extensive contracts with the U.S. military. Another claims to be operating in a purely educational realm with close ties to the state’s university system. Any profits derived from using future launch sites will, of course, be privately held. So far no launch site has been constructed, and commercial fishermen successfully imposed a moratorium in a proposed location at the municipal level. Needless to say, we will monitor future developments closely and spread the word via our website notoxicrockets4me.org.

The lands of indigenous people continue to be invaded and colonized by for-profit and/or military launch sites over community objections. In Texas, the Comecrudo Tribe has filed suit citing the American Indian Religious Freedom Act on the grounds that it is violated by the closure of public beaches during SpaceX rocket testing. Comecrudo ceremonies on sacred days must be conducted at the beach. Joined by environmental groups, their suit says such closures also violate the Texas Constitution and names the county and the Texas General Land Office as being in violation.

Kati Rocket Lab in New Zealand was sold to indigenous people whose land it is on as a purely civilian facility and launch site. Lockheed Martin Corporation now runs Rocket Lab and the peace community in NZ is protesting this betrayal as military technology is now hoisted from the launch site.

As launch sites proliferate, so do launches. The rapid growth of new satellites which join older objects already in orbit plus a lot of non-functioning junk has implications for climate, the ozone layer, wildlife exposure to disruptive sound pollution, and toxic fallout here on Earth.

Water For Life, Not For Profit Theme Unauthorized At Maine’s Bicentennial Parade

Lead organizer Luke Sekera-Flanders and educator Jake Kulaw carry a water defense banner in Lewiston Aug 21, 2021 created for Community Water Justice by the Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!). Photo credit: Nickie Sekera


A breathtakingly hot bicentennial celebration parade saw 100+ vehicles belching CO2 into the atmosphere as it wound its way from Auburn to twin city Lewiston yesterday in Maine.


Bringing up the rear was Community Water Justice walking entry “Bicentennial B-roll: The Villagers vs. The Pillagers!” (There were good banners in need of carrying, so I decided to leave my pitchfork in the car.)


It was a parade dominated by the corporate entities who treat Maine as a resource extraction colony: among them Poland Springs, the odious Central Maine Power, and Casella waste “management” i.e. trucking in construction debris from away and incinerating it as Maine-sourced waste.


We were an unauthorized entry to the parade and police twice ordered us out of the street, which we ignored. (Yes, white people can get away with that.)


Many people clapped and cheered our message, and twice at different points on the parade route someone shouted, “They saved the best for last!” As police tried to shoo us away the audience shouted, “Let them march!”
Besides our banners we wore or carried Stolen Spring logos, Maine Natural Guard, and “God bless the corporations for giving us candidates.”

photo credit: Nickie Sekera

Getting press coverage was the usual struggle (one sentence in the Lewiston Sun Journal, crickets elsewhere) but Luke was well-prepared with a press release. An excerpt:


The parade…is sponsored by many of Maine’s worst environmental offenders, including Poland Spring (who is the headline sponsor), Casella, and Central Maine Power. Nestle recently sold Poland Spring to a pair of private equity firms now operating as BlueTriton Brands, playing Wall Street games with our water sources. These companies’ sponsorship of the bicentennial celebrations showcases the State of Maine’s relationship with these polluting corporations, and presents a great opportunity to show solidarity in our collective struggle for a healthier future. While many residents are aware of individual issues such as the CMP Corridor, industrial fish farms, Casella, Metallic Mining or Poland Spring bottled water, they are not aware of the larger context – that Maine’s environment is the target of exploitative international private interests.

Beyond being detrimental to Maine’s long-term economic, environmental and social stability, 

these corporations’ presence in Maine is contradictory to any reasonable path to mitigating the effects of harmful changes in our climate. 

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, revealing that the key window for action to prevent the worst effects of climate change is within the next decade. Its findings confirm what Indigenous and environmental activists have been saying for decades – unless we dramatically reduce carbon emissions and pollution, we will face the consequences. 


The purpose of this action is to engage the public with the reality and urgency of Maine’s position as an object of corporate hyperfocus, and elevate the struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, water security, and environmental health into the public eye.


Indigenous sovereignty might save us if we listen in time. How much indigenous wisdom was evident at this celebration of Maine’s statehood? None that I saw besides our messaging. I know that Penobscot elders were holding a water ceremony that day, and also that former chief Barry Dana regards the bicentennial as a celebration of the long colonial genocide on Native people of the region.

When I was a small child in Maine it seldom got hot enough for swimming, according to my California girl mother. Yesterday in Lewiston-Auburn it was a 89 degrees and very humid. 


But why worry about all the carbon-belching parade vehicles and the lead sponsorship by Poland Spring, formerly owned by the multinational water extractor Nestle. 


The banner Luke carried had been modified to reflect that private equity water investors doing business as Blue Triton now own Poland Springs water extraction sites in Maine. What could go wrong?