As a spaceport, Granot Loma would be a site for vertical rocket launches. Here, rockets would launch up to 60 times per year. The site would include lighting towers, 3 launch pads, access roads, and warehouses.
Who is proposing a spaceport?
The proposed rocket launch site is located within Powell Township, on a property referred to as "Granot Loma". The site is located directly on the shore of Lake Superior, near Echo Lake, the North Country Trail, the Hiawatha Water Trail, the Little Garlic River, the Elliott Donnelly Wilderness Tract, the Eagles Nest Community Forest, and the Noquemanon Trail.
Above, land ownership map of a portion of Marquette County, containing the proposed rocket launch site
This land currently features:
Above, photo of the Granot Loma property, courtesy of Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy
Rockets would be launched with the goal of putting satellites into low-earth orbit. According to MAMA's claims, these satellites would be utilized by fully autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars). These rockets do not have people on-board.
Many steps are left in the process of creating a spaceport. Granot Loma still needs to be sold, rezoned, and licensed.
Tom Baldwin still needs to sell Granot Loma to MAMA.
For the spaceport to be constructed, Powell Township would need to rezone the land for heavy industrial use.
For the spaceport to operate, the Federal Aviation Administration would need to grant a license. The licensing process would include an environmental impact assessment.
Even after successful launches, pieces of rockets, containing kerosene propellent residue, will fall into the lake or land below, including nose cones, large battery packs, engines, and rocket body pieces. During rocket failure, the entirety of the rocket will end up in Lake Superior or in the adjacent coastal forest.
Rocket launches risk physically contaminating Lake Superior, surrounding rivers and streams, and soil. At Pacific Spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska, rocket launch failure led to the contamination of 230 metric tons of soil, which had to be excavated and treated off-site.
Rocket launches would also introduce sound pollution. Sound pollution significantly impacts wildlife, especially birds, land mammals, and echolocators. Additionally, launches noise would disrupt humans for miles around.
The construction of at least 3 lighting towers with heights of about 100 feet tall will pollute the area's dark sky.
Above, Granot Loma as it is today
Above, a launch pad at a vertical rocket launch site
For each rocket launch, surrounding areas would be required to evacuate. This includes homes, roads, and outdoor recreation areas (both on land and in water).
At SpaceX's Boca Chica spaceport, locals lost access to roads, public areas, and their only public beach. During launches, Boca Chica residents have been instructed to leave their homes due to risk of launch vibrations shattering windows. SpaceX has now bought many of them out of their homes.
According to IQMRI's economic report commissioned by MAMA, “the annual revenue generated from a launch cadence of one rocket launch per week in Michigan would have the same revenue impact in the State equal to the annual revenue of two additional fast-food chain restaurants".
IQMRI reported MAMA's plan to be "not self-sustaining nor economically viable" and characterized investing in the spaceport as "high risk and low return".