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“Truth or Consequences”
A Brief History of Spaceport America
Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

UPDATED: 8/20/19, 12:08 p.m. PDT

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sometime in 2020, if all goes according to plan, British billionaire Richard Branson will board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity at Spaceport America in New Mexico and take the first commercial suborbital space flight in history.

The landmark flight, which Virgin has been trying to conduct for 15 years, will also be the culmination of a 30-year effort by New Mexico to become a commercial space power.

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  • August 19, 2019
Weekend Reading: Spaceport America, SpaceX, LightSail 2 & More

Dream a Little Dream of Me: SpaceX’s launch of Bangladesh’s “dream” satellite, Bangabandhu 1, has them celebrating in Dhaka. https://www.thedailystar.net/science/space-science/bangladesh-bd-first-commercial-satellite-bangabandhu-1-on-way-orbit-after-successful-launch-space-spacex-florida-us-1575244 Musk’s Big Promises for F9 B2: Crazy Elon’s prices are so low they’re insane! https://www.investors.com/news/spacex-elon-musk-predictions-reusable-falcon9-lower-costs/ A Shot of Maple Syrup, Coming Right Up: Nick Rose samples the cuisine for David Saint-Jacques’ upcoming mission to the International Space Station. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/nekwyz/canada-astronaut-food-david-saint-jacques-perspective-space All Quiet on the Spaceport Front: Maggie Grimason visits Truth or Consequences […]

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  • May 12, 2018
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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  • July 6, 2015
Video: Spaceport America Visitors Center Opens Amid Applause, Protests

Last week, officials opened the new Spaceport America Visitors Center in Truth or Consequences, NM, to both applause and protests. The issue is the city of Truth or Consequences leased the Lee Belle Johnson Senior Recreation Center to Sun Tours as a location to run bus tours out to Spaceport America. Seniors who used the building have been displaced to what they believe is a less attractive site. Residents have […]

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  • June 29, 2015
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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  • February 11, 2015
Spaceport America Seeks Loan for Visitors Center as Road Project Progresses

The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has approved borrowing $6.5 million to build a Spaceport America visitors center in Truth or Consequences. Meanwhile, Dona Ana County officials are preparing to bid out a contract to pave a southern road that leads to the remote spaceport.

However, the projects won’t measure up to the original plans for them due to funding limitations. The budget squeeze is a result of years of delay in the start of commercial operations by Spaceport America’s anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic.

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  • July 3, 2014
Spaceport America’s Incredibly Shrinking Visitor’s Center Threatens Tourism Plans

spaceport_america_visitors_center

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Plans for a visitor’s center at Spaceport America have continued to shrink due to a lack of funding and revenues. And that could pose significant risks to New Mexico’s plans to boost the local economy by attracting more than 200,000 visitors to the remote facility where Virgin Galactic plans to launch tourists into space.

In fact, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority appears to be going down the very path that its own Strategic Business Plan warns will result in a poor visitor experience and fewer tourists paying money to see the high-tech spaceport.

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  • March 25, 2014
New Mexico Residents Wait for Godot — and Branson — to Show Up

Over a BuzzFeed, writer Joshua Wheeler travels to the hardscrabble town of Truth or Consequences, N.M., whose residents are waiting for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to begin space tourism flights from nearby Spaceport America, possibly by the end of this year. Wheeler asks whether the town is ready for the influx of high net worth individuals, and whether they will bring the benefits to Truth or Consequences and the […]

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  • March 21, 2014
Spaceport America Hits Bump in the Road

dona_ana_sealPlans to pave a road that would provide more direct access to Spaceport America from Las Cruces have hit a snag over design and budget issues.

Engineers in Doña Ana County did a design for the project, which involves paving 23.7 miles of dirt road between the village of Hatch and the spaceport. However, officials in Sierra County — where 16.7 miles of the paving would be done — don’t like the plan because they believe the road would be too expensive to maintain once paved.

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  • February 13, 2013
Spaceport America Welcome Center Land Purchase in Dispute


There is another dispute concerning the location of a welcome center for Spaceport America:

The city of Truth or Consequences’ bid to sell 6.2 acres of land to a state agency for the construction of one of two Spaceport America welcome centers was declared invalid last week because municipal officials did not disclose decades-old federal restrictions on the use of the land.

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  • August 27, 2012