Southern Road Hits Snag as Spaceport America Seeks More Tenants

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

A couple of updates on Spaceport America.

Southern Road Project Delayed:  A project aimed at turning a 24-mile dirt road to Spaceport America into a “quasi-paved surface” has hit a snag that will delay the project by two to three months. There has been a mismatch between the corridor proposed for the southern road and an environmental review conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bill Childress, regional BLM director, said the study examined a route originally specified by the county for the proposed road upgrades. But “when we got the final engineering documents from the county, it didn’t match the documents,” Childress said. “We had to inform the county of that.”

Childress said the route distance that didn’t align was “less than a mile,” mainly in one particular location. The route in the engineering plans was offset from that examined in the environmental study by a distance of about “20 to 30 feet.”

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New Spaceport America Tour Opens

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)
Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, June 24, 2015 (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America – the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport announced today the new Spaceport America Experience tour is open for visitors.

Guests gathered to create a celebratory atmosphere in the street outside the new Spaceport America Visitor Center located in the historic hot-springs district of the City of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

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X2nSat and Spaceport America Announce Partnership To Establish Next-Generation Satellite Gateway

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)
Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, and PETALUM, CA, May 19, 2015 (NMSA PR) – Global satellite communications solutions provider X2nSat announces today its decision to partner with Spaceport America – the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport. X2nSat has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the long-term lease of land and access to infrastructure as the first VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) solution provider within Spaceport America’s new satellite gateway ground station development.

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Spaceport America Has a Business Plan

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)
Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

Spaceport America, N.M., May 13, 2015 (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, announced the publication of its go-to-market strategy and business plan today.

With construction winding down, Spaceport America is officially open for business following today’s approval of a new go-to-market strategy and five-year business plan by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s (NMSA) board of directors. The plan was presented to the board by Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson.

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Spaceport America Spending Criticized

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)
Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

KRQE News has looked into how the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) is spending money on Spaceport America — and it’s not pretty.

The authority is paying $2.9 million annually to a company to provide state-of-the-art fire protection to the largely empty spaceport — which is used for the occasional sounding rocket launch and television commercial.

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Spaceport America Hires First Marketing Director

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)
Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson announced today that Tammara Anderton will become the spaceport’s first Director of Marketing. Anderton brings over 25 years of experience in international brand strategy and marketing communication. Anderton has extensive multi-stakeholder engagement experience spanning the biotechnology, energy, healthcare, mobile and wireless, environmental, financial services, and non-profit sectors. She held international executive management positions with Saatchi Saatchi, OTM Brand, Unaxis, and CellTrust.

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Spaceport America Gets Sculpture

Genesis sculpture by Otto Rigan at entrance to Spaceport America. (Credit: New Mexico Spaceport Authority)
GENESIS sculpture by Otto Rigan at entrance to Spaceport America. (Credit: New Mexico Spaceport Authority)

A sculpture named GENESIS by artists Otto Rigan has been installed at the entrance of Spaceport America. The 2.5-ton sculpture was commissioned under New Mexico’s Art in Public Places program, which is mandatory for all major state-funded construction projects.

For all you art lovers, information about the artist and the sculpture is below courtesy of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

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Senate Bill to Sell Spaceport Launched to Senate Finance Without Recommendation

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)

SANTE FE, NM (NM Senate Democrats PR) — A Senate bill to sell the Spaceport America facility moved on to the Senate Finance (SFC) with a bipartisan no-recommendation on Thursday. After a brief debate, the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee (SCORC) voted to move along Senate Bill 267 (SB267), “Sale of Spaceport America,” sponsored by Senator George K. Muñoz (D-4-Cibola, McKinley & San Juan).

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Spaceport America Hosts Valentine’s Day Fly-in

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)
Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NMSA PR) — Spaceport America hosted ten private pilots and 24 of their guests in a first ever Fly-in event held at the spaceport on Valentine’s Day. Visiting aircraft at today’s event ranging from a large twin-engine, 6-passenger Cessna aircraft to a two seat, home built, RV 4, parked on the spaceport apron around the iconic “Gateway to Space” terminal hangar building.

Spaceport America Executive Director, Christine Anderson and her staff took the group of pilots and their passengers on a special morning tour of the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC) and then during a luncheon updated the group on the spaceport’s progress. The spaceport guests were treated to a private tour of the Gateway To Space building given by Jonathan Firth, Virgin Galactic Senior Vice President before departing in mid-afternoon.

“Today’s unique event gave our spaceport staff a chance to share a glimpse of the future of the commercial space industry with members of the aviation community and also allowed them an opportunity to work together on a large airfield operations mission,” said Christine Anderson. “We look forward to doing more community outreach projects like this with the public in the near future.”

Spaceport America has over 5,000 visitors to date who have toured the spaceport by taking one of the weekly public tours offered by the Follow The Sun tour company. Follow The Sun will be expanding their tours from 3 to 5 days a week to accommodate the new Spaceport America Visitors Experience. The new experience will include a visit to the onsite Gateway Gallery, featuring many exciting interactive displays, exhibits and the new Spaceport America Visitor Center in Truth or Consequences.

Senior Citizens Being Pushed Aside for Spaceport America Visitors Center

Oh God! As if Spaceport America needed more bad publicity.

Truth or Consequences has voted to rent out a large part of its senior citizens center for a welcome center where tourists will gather to be bused to Spaceport America.

So, let me see if I’ve got this straight:

New Mexico taxpayers spend nearly a quarter billion dollars on a spaceport built for billionaire Richard Branson so he can fly his fellow billionaires and millionaire on space joy rides with the promise of vast economic benefits to the local population. Branson fails to deliver on any of it despite 10 years of effort, leaving taxpayers subsidizing a largely empty spaceport used for occasional sounding rocket launches. And now senior citizens living on fixed incomes are being pushed aside to make way for tourists to go visit a spaceport with no spacecraft.

This is not good. The crown jewel of NewSpace is becoming a cosmic embarrassment.

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For Sale: One Slightly Used Spaceport

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)

New Mexico State Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallop, has introduced a bill that would get New Mexico out of the space business by putting Spaceport America up for sale.

The measure, SB-267, would require the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to develop a plan for selling the $225 million facility located outside of Truth or Consequences.

Funds from the sale would go toward early pay back of bonds used to fund the spaceport. Special taxes imposed in Sierra and Dona Ana counties to help pay for the spaceport would be rescinded. And the spaceport authority would be put out of business.

The spaceport was developed with Virgin Galactic as its anchor tenant. However, Virgin has experienced years of delay in getting its space tourism business up and running. SpaceX has a test facility at Spaceport America, and a number of sounding rockets have been launched from the location.

Spaceport America to Host Valentine’s Day Fly-in

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America will host its first-ever Private Pilots Fly-in on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. This is the first time that the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) will open up the spaceport to this kind of event. The spaceport currently has over 5,000 annual visitors that see the spaceport by taking one of the weekly public bus tours. Holding a fly-in event like this was a result of the growing number of requests from private pilots to fly into the spaceport to take a tour.

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Year in Review: A Look at Virgin Galactic Developments in 2014

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)

Continuing our look back at 2014, we review progress at Virgin Galactic. While the loss of SpaceShipTwo on Oct. 31 understandably dominated the headlines, there were a number of other newsworthy developments at the company last year.

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New Mexico Spaceport Authority Seeks $6.2 Million for Ops, New Hangar

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

New Mexico Spaceport Authority officials will seek an additional $1.7 million to fund operations and $4.5 million to build a new hangar to attract additional tenants to Spaceport America, the Las-Cruces Sun-News reports.

The funding would be a special appropriation, on top of the general appropriation they had already prepared, and would only be used if needed, Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said.

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