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Mon, Jan 14, 2013

Virgin Galactic Finally Set To Pay The Rent

Lease For Use Of Spaceport America Is Over $85K Per Month

Virgin Galactic is reportedly set to begin lease payments this month to Spaceport America in Las Cruces, NM. The State of New Mexico said that the commercial space company will begin accruing rent on January 15, 2013.

Sir Richard Branson's company will pay $85,833 per month, according to a report appearing in the Las Cruces Sun-News. That amount includes $1 million per year for use of the facilities, and about $30,000 for the land.

But starting to pay the rent does not mean Virgin Galactic will be in New Mexico for the long term. Breaking the lease would cost the company between $500,000 and $2 million, depending on the situation, according to the lease agreement. The company has said publicly that other sites could be considered.

While the terminal building, which has been named "The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space," was awarded a certificate of occupancy on November 15 of last year, Christine Anderson, the executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority said that there is still a "punch list" of small items that need to be completed. But the CO triggered the clock on rent payments, which under the agreement between Virgin Galactic and the state were to begin 60 days after it was awarded.

Still unfinished is a promised southern road into the facility, which has been slowed by the discovery of 31 archaeological sites and a buried utility cable that will have to be dealt with, as well as concerns by local ranchers along its 23-mile length. Those issues have forced the authority to go back to the legislature and seek an additional $3 million for the road project, which is coming very late in the facility's construction. Additional funding for the road is not a sure bet, as Governor Susan Martinez has said in the past that the state has already spent enough money on Spaceport America.

(Image provided by Spaceport America)



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