The New Mexico House has unanimously passed the spaceflight informed consent law, providing legal protections that Virgin Galactic said were required to keep it from moving out of the state and to attract other tenants to Spaceport America. The measure now goes to Gov. Susana Martinez, who has promised the sign the measure into law.
The vote was 70-0, and there seems to have been no shortage of rhetoric among legislators.
“I see this as a stepping stone to broaden space flight activities … not only for New Mexico but for the entire country,” said Rep. James White, an Albuquerque Republican. “There may be time when we launch spacecraft from here with passengers and land them within minutes on the other side of the world.”
Yeah, maybe. In about 20 years. In the meantime, New Mexico will have to hope that Virgin Galactic can begin commercial flights into space next year. Once that starts, the project can begin to deliver on its many promises to taxpayers.
Rep. Bill McCamley, a Las Cruces Democrat, said the spaceport can boost the state’s economy and provide high-paying jobs for New Mexicans, who otherwise might leave the state to find work in science, technology and engineering.
“This is something that southern New Mexico absolutely has to have,” he said.
Let’s hope he’s right. The expectations for the $209 million spaceport are, pardon the pun, sky high. New Mexico has done its part. Time for Virgin Galactic to stand and deliver.