Bill Now Heads To Guv For Signature
In a conference call
Thursday, New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans
announced the New Mexico state legislature has approved $100
million in funding for the development of a commercial spaceport
near Truth or Consequences. Homans says the bill authorizes funding
for development of the spaceport through 2009.
"It's all systems go," said Homans.
The "nearly unanimous" approval -- by a margin of 32-4 -- is a
significant victory for proponents of the spaceport. As Aero-News reported earlier this month
in an ANN Special Feature Aero-Cast, when the 30-day
legislative session began there were many who questioned spending
money on something a few legislators saw as little more than a
In order to receive the funding, Homans says the New Mexico
Spaceport Authority must meet three important criteria:
- The authority has to succeed in obtaining an FAA license for
- All cost estimates must come in at or below the original $225
million cost quoted by spaceport proponents
- The authority must have a lease in place with an anchor tenant,
such as Virgin Galactic (which has already stated it wants to make the NM
Spaceport its home.)
The Spaceport Authority will also be allowed to use $10 million
in funds originally appropriated in 1996 for runway construction in
the area immediately, to be put towards the planning and
development of the spaceport. The change comes after
contingency language stating the government would need to match the
funds was removed.
Funding may be provided, in part, by local gross receipts tax
levies to provide money for development of the planned Southwest
Homans states the legislature also fixed a problem in the
language of the earlier bill, which only allowed the Spaceport
Authority to build infrastructure on land owned by the authority.
The NMSA may now develop infrastructure such as roads, power, and
water lines on land leased from the state, as well.
Contingent on Governor Bill Richardson's signature of approval,
the spaceport legislation will also eliminate New Mexico's former
Office of Space Development, as well as the NM Space Commission.
Both agencies will be rolled into the New Mexico Space
When completed, the spaceport is expected to be home to several
private aerospace ventures -- including Virgin Galactic, the annual
X-Cup and the Rocket Racing League.