85.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, September 30, 2023


Beal Aerospace, L.L.C. would like to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the U. S. Virgin Islands and respond to some of the issues raised in recent weeks concerning our plans involving St. Croix.
First, some background information is helpful in understanding who we are and what our business plan is. Beal Aerospace, L.L.C. is a U. S. Virgin Islands company set up to be a launch service provider in the commercial space industry. Beal Aerospace s parent company, Caribbean Space Technologies, L.L.C., is a U. S. Virgin Islands company established to build a high-tech office and assembly facility on St. Croix where rockets will be assembled that will carry commercial satellites to space. We are, essentially, in the space transportation business transporting cargo from earth to orbit, only we also build our own transportation vehicles (BA-Series Rockets) in order to establish ourselves as a low-cost leader of commercial space launches. You see, there is an ever increasing need for commercial satellites to be placed in space that relay voice, data, and video streams to any place on the globe, but the costs of placing those satellites in space has been extremely expensive to date. Thus, the need for a low-cost launch solution, which is our business plan. Beal Aerospace s launch vehicles (rockets) would be assembled on St. Croix using our proprietary three-stage BA-2 Rocket design pioneered by our research and development operations in Texas. The BA-2 Rocket stages assembled on St. Croix would be transported by barge to Sombrero Island, a remote island north of Anguilla, to be integrated into a complete flight-ready rocket and then launched from our launch facilities being constructed there to the desired orbits specified by our commercial customers. Among these customers are the telecommunication companies that own and operate satellite phone, paging, and other communication systems.
After an extensive evaluation, the U. S. Virgin Islands were selected for our rocket assembly operations because of their proximity to Sombrero Island and the excellent tax incentives available to beneficiaries under the Industrial Development Commission (IDC) Program. In fact, we plan to establish our worldwide headquarters on St. Croix, if we obtain the necessary approvals to carry out our aerospace operations. After an extensive search, a site was selected on St. Croix for building a campus-style corporate headquarters and assembly facility. The facility to be constructed on St. Croix is very similar to the research and development facility that is in Texas. It blends the best look and feel of the Caribbean with the 21st Century business that we are bringing to the U. S. Virgin Islands. These facilities are patterned after the high-tech office facilities that you would typically see in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, California. The specific site on St. Croix includes approximately 270 acres east of Great Pond Bay and west of Mt. Fancy located on the southeast shore of St. Croix. Only the property (approximately 60 acres) south of Southshore Road is being developed. This property is currently commercially zoned, thus, requiring only a minimal zoning change from W-1 to W-2 for our facilities. The balance of the 270 acres is zoned residential, and we are not developing that property, either commercially or residentially. We purchased both the commercial and residential parcels because they were both owned by the same owner who wanted to sell them together as part of one sale.
There have been suggestions that we should locate our facilities in the existing industrial sections located on the southwest end of St. Croix or separate our facilities into two facilities one for offices and one for assembly. The short answer is that the site we selected was the only available site on St. Croix that met the requirements we need for our business success. We also cannot split our facility into two pieces because they are inseparable, due to the high-tech nature of our business and the need to have all of our employees together in the same facility for assembly-line efficiency which is key to our business success. Besides, our high-tech office and assembly facility on St. Croix is to be our worldwide headquarters, and we need to be located in a different location from the more traditional manufacturing companies located in the industrial area on the southwest end of St. Croix. We are not an industrial company.
There have also been reports that our plans for St. Croix are not environmentally sensitive. This is absolutely false! It is in our own economic self-interest to be environmentally responsible. The BA-2 Rocket uses the most environmentally sensitive propellants of any rocket launched in the world today. And, the environmental impact from our assembly operations is far below every allowable local and federal EPA standard for solid waste streams and air quality. Equally important, the marine transport system we plan to use is designed to be environmentally sensitive, using shallow draft barges with low-impact propulsion, so as to preserve the environmental integrity of Great Pond Bay, including specifically, the reef system. Our plans do not involve dredging Great Pond Bay, as some have suggested. The current site has trash on it and has not been maintained. There is also severe erosion with a resulting negative impact on water quality due to undeveloped access to the beach by local traffic. We plan to improve and beautify the site it will be our corporate home. Our project plan is being developed with all of these factors in mind, and after meeting with government officials, community leaders, and local groups including those representing environmental organizations. Any suggestion that our St. Croix plans have been designed without local community input or environmental sensitivity is simply not true.
Let me be clear here. We absolutely support environmental standards that keep our environment healthy and clean. But, the environmental rush-to-judgement, without knowing all of the facts by a few in this case is unfair. The U. S. Virgin Islands rules that apply here require us to do an environmental impact study and present that to the appropriate officials for a final determination on the merits of our project. That is what we are doing completing the Environmental Assessment Report for submission to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources ( DPNR ). Shouldn t we be given the opportunity to complete our preliminary development plans, including the appropriate environmental safeguards that are part of our plans before final opinions are formed? We are not asking for any favors here only fairness. We are only asking for unbiased determinations based on all the environmental facts that pertain to our project. As a good corporate citizen, we are developing our project plans with environmental concerns in mind.
Our responsibility as a good corporate citizen is also evident by our commitment to give math and science scholarships to deserving U. S. Virgin Islands students for them to continue their education in these disciplines at the University, as well as our grants to local non-profit organizations. As for our employee base, we intend to find and offer employment to the best and brightest in the U. S. Virgin Islands. We are confident that our excellent wage and benefit packages will do just that. Make no mistake. Our primary goal is not to be the sole solution to the financial challenges currently facing the U. S. Virgin Islands. Admittedly, we are business people and not politicians. We certainly wish the new administration well in addressing these financial challenges and will lend our support. But, our goal is first, and foremost, to operate a successful business. In fact, the most important thing we can do for the U. S. Virgin Islands is to establish and operate a successful business. Beal Aerospace is exactly the type of high-tech, non-polluting business that the U. S. Virgin Islands should seek to attract. To be successful here, we need timely answers to our various approval applications from th
e government and we need the support and encouragement of the local community. As for our part, we pledge our commitment to operate a successful space transportation business and build world-class facilities here in St. Croix. We also commit to being environmentally responsible. Seeing is believing. So, come to Texas and see our operations there, if you want to see proof. If you do, I believe you will become convinced that sometime in the not too distant future, you can come to our corporate headquarters on St. Croix, and see Beal Aerospace at work as the most successful launch service provider in the space transportation industry.

R. Brad Oates

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