Anguilla Local News

Rocket Launching on Sombrero?

  From the Anguilla Local News - Site Map.

[Click to tour Sombrero] Forty miles northwest is the furthest outpost of Anguilla, Sombrero Island. The persistent rumours about Sombrero have hit the world press: Beal Aerospace wants to use Sombrero to launch commercial satellites, spending $270 million dollars and launching before the year 2000, according to their web site. Sombrero is a long way from Anguilla and previously was best known for its lighthouse and the difficulty of landing by boat (you climb a cliff on a ladder). Soon you may have another reason to come to Anguilla -- to watch the rockets being launched, from a safe distance.

GEM Radio's electronic news service reported that "Technical calculations of the project, to be launched at the beginning of 1999 are being made by the British National Space Centre which is part of the structure of the Industry and Commerce Ministry. ... The island is known as one the biggest ornithological reserves possessing rare specimen of brown pelicans and other birds. British environmental organizations have expressed concern that the construction of a new cosmodrome might produce a strong negative effect on the environment."

According to St. Maarten's Daily Herald newspaper, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK has contacted the Anguilla National Trust to find out the current situation. And Beal Aerospace met with Government officials on August 22, 1997 and expressed an interest in Sombrero for satellite launches. This meeting agreed that an environmental impact study would be undertaken, which is scheduled for May 1998 (now). The RSPB points out that the terns do not arrive on Sombrero until June and the booby nests from November to March, so they won't be there either.

Nick Nuttall, reporter with The Times of London is looking for reaction from Anguilla about the satellite launches, as is Carl Holcombe, a newspaper reporter at the Virgin Islands Independent ( "Beal Aerospace is apparently coming to the USVI to build a rocket assembly plant." )

 Revised: May 19, 1998

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