Spaceport America is nearly complete, nine months behind schedule, but “the real challenge is yet to come,” the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
From The Journal:
“The spaceport was launched in 2006 by former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, at a time when the state was flush with cash and the aeronautics world was abuzz with predictions of a boom in space tourism and commercial travel. Five years later, the state is hurting. The new Republican governor, Susana Martinez, has made clear that taxpayers are done subsidizing the spaceport, and it will need to cover its eventual operating budget of about $6 million a year.
“New Mexico is nearing completion of a $209 million spaceport – a commercial airport for spacecraft – in the middle of desolate ranch land. It’s meant to be a hub for Virgin Galactic’s planned jaunts into suborbital space.
“That could prove to be a heavy lift. The technological and marketing breakthroughs that were supposed to usher in a dramatic surge in space launches have been slow to materialize. What’s more, while New Mexico has the newest, flashiest spaceport, it faces tough competition from other states vying to host commercial launches.
“A spaceport in Virginia that once focused almost exclusively on hosting National Aeronautics and Space Administration and military launches is now reaching out to private firms, offering tax breaks and other incentives. Oklahoma is seeking tenants for a former Air Force base it converted into a spaceport. Potential rival projects in Puerto Rico and on the Texas coast are in preliminary discussions with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk.
“Foreign nations, too, are racing to get in the game. XCOR Aerospace, a start-up that aims to be the low-fare leader in space tourism, plans to launch its rocket-powered flights from spaceports under development in South Korea and the Caribbean island of Curacao, as well as its home base of Mojave, Calif. New launch sites are also under discussion in Scandinavia and the U.K.”
The article provides a sobering look at a venture New Mexico is banking on to help drive the state’s economy in the future. Read the full article here.