Another Spaceport America Update

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The Las Cruces Sun-News has an update from Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. The highlights are below.

  • Virgin Galactic remains “completely committed” to Spaceport America despite recent remarks by Richard Branson that the company also wants to fly from a British spaceport.
  • Doña Ana County officials are moving forward with a plan to pave a dirt road that will provide more direct access to Spaceport America from Las Cruces. A contract could be awarded as early as July.
  • The spaceport expects to earn $4 million in fiscal year 2017 that begins on July 1. It will still need $2.8 million from the New Mexico Legislature to cover its operating budget.
  • Officials are expecting Virgin Galactic to begin flying from Spaceport America during FY 2018. Virgin’s annual rent will increase during that year from $1 million to around $3 million.
  • ARCASpace is planning to test their AirStrato vehicle at Spaceport America this year.
  • Officials are continuing efforts to attract more businesses to the spaceport, including positioning it as a location for filming and events.

The rent hike is interesting. If Virgin Galactic isn’t flying people or launching satellites — i.e., generating revenues — by the time the rent triples, the company could face some serious challenges.

One wonders if this is what is behind Virgin’s decision to go to three shifts per day building the second SpaceShipTwo.  The other concern is that the company will try to rush the program forward and short change the development and testing processes.

  • James

    I have a feeling their best hope is XCOR.

  • Hemingway

    ARCA Space Corporation is great at advertising potential products.
    However, this is the only successful witnessed rocket launch –
    Demonstrator 2B rocket launch for the Ansari X Prize, in 2004. I can’t
    find any record of subsequent launches.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7LYPzDe7uE

  • Hug Doug

    They have attempted a few launches, with mixed successes, since then.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARCA_Space_Corporation#Missions

  • mzungu

    $7M a year to operate? I thought the salary at a place like that would be low… Are they paying off some bond or loans?

  • XCOR has no current plans to fly out of Spaceport America. That could change if a vehicle customer wants to do it, but it’s not high on our list.

  • James

    Ah damn. They may be fucked.

  • Hemingway

    Doug – has anyone looked at the potential crosswinds problem at Spaceport America? I found this comment from 2011:

    “Future plans call for a cross runway in addition
    to the $29 million runway dedicated by Richardson and Branson last
    October. The second runway would be used “if there are crosswinds, and
    these craft are fairly sensitive to crosswinds,” Homans said.”

    http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/1623176state01-16-11.htm

  • Hemingway

    Virgin Galactic does not yet have a space ship but VG has space suits – LOL. Astronauts piloting Virgin Galactic’s commercial space flights will suit-up in these one-piece uniforms by Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas’ brand Y-3.
    Here is a video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6Df73X_sSQ

  • patb2009

    $3Million per year is small change in VGs program…

  • Douglas Messier

    Anderson says that there are like 50 people between the spaceport and Virgin employed by the spaceport. I don’t know what the split is, but I don’t think the Mojave spaceport needs that many people to run it. Not working for the spaceport administration anyway.

  • Douglas Messier

    Oh, good grief.

    Virgin’s really good at branding. Gotta give them that.

    These aren’t really spacesuits by any accepted definition of the word. They are flight suits you wear into space. If the ship suffers any rapid decompression at altitude, these suits aren’t going to protect them. They will look fabulous, though.

  • Douglas Messier

    Good question. I think the second runway was nixed due to cost issues. I’m trying to remember what the wind limit was on PF-04. It wasn’t very high. I don’t know how much the extra weight of a full load of fuel and passengers would make a difference.