MARQUETTE, Mich., July 27, 2020 — Last week, the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA) announced that Marquette, MI had been selected as a new vertical space launch site, kickstarting the nation’s next chapter in commercial, government and defense aerospace operations. After a year-long selection process, Marquette was chosen alongside Oscoda, MI due to its existing commercial and public infrastructure, geographic and terrestrial mapping, living standards and workforce development. The total project will create more than 2,000 jobs to start, while generating demand for as many as 40,000 new jobs statewide to create a space development ecosystem by the time operations begin in early 2025. In response to the announcement, State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) had the following to say:
“Due to the highly competitive nature of the selection site process for low orbit satellite launches in the United States right now, I understand how Thursday’s announcement has left residents with a lot of questions. For some, it’s left a lot of anger.
“With Upper Peninsula legislators being informed Tuesday of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Associations (MAMA) choice for its vertical launch site to be situated just north of the City of Marquette, I was also surprised to hear we had now won the selection site for these launches. Knowing it was too risky to launch vertical satellites over residential areas, I thought K.I. Sawyer and our region was out of the running. I also thought the opportunity to bring a growing aerospace industry here that could bring 2,000 high paying jobs locally was lost. Last week we heard that it was not.
“If MAMA is successful with permitting at the local, state and national level that could take up to 5 years to determine, there is no doubt that putting a launch site in a place where currently there are forests will be a change. These details, and many of the other details that residents are worrying about, are still being determined. Like all other complex capital-intensive projects, the permitting process will decide much of these details and whether this project is possible.
“As we go through the anticipated 5-year permitting process, and as Michigan competes with other launch sites nationally, I ask that residents be patient before making assumptions about what this project is. As one of your state legislators, I am still being briefed on the details as they become available. What I do know is MAMA plans to do several public forums in the coming months and will form a community action group to help explain the project in greater detail, also serving as a sounding board for questions, concerns and suggestions.
“The U.P. has always had its challenges in finding viable, long-term, high-paying economic development that allows the next generation to stay here. If we can bring 2,000 21st century jobs to the region and do it in a way that complements our landscape and still protects our natural resources, we would be foolish to prematurely oppose it. Everything from our public schools, to our universities that do research, to our trade unions, to our small businesses and even our healthcare industry would benefit tremendously from having the aerospace industry here.
“There are many things we don’t know yet about the project, but I believe there is so much more to lose if we allow our fear to predetermine what the project will be. Our patience and willingness to come to the table and give the project a fair shake in the coming months and years before dismissing it are needed. I’m encouraging residents to learn with me, to be involved in the process and let our curiosity for more knowledge and information about how low-orbit satellite launches work drive our actions. We’ve always set the bar high with any industry when it comes to protecting our land and water, and I have no doubt we will demand the same protection with this project.”
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