New Mexico legislators spent Monday down in Las Cruces reviewing the finances of Space America. Members of the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee discovered that more had stayed the same than had changed in recent months.
Here’s a summary of the key points:
- Virgin Galactic will likely not begin flying paying passengers for at least another 8 months. It’s not really clear how realistic that goal is; much depends on how upcoming test flights using a brand new motor go in Mojave.
- Local taxpayers are partially on the hook for helping to keep the $218.5 million, taxpayer-funded spaceport operational until Virgin Galactic begins commercial flights. Currently, the $218.5 million taxpayer-funded spaceport is being used to launch sounding rockets and shoot commercials for Land Rover.
- Operations are being partially funded from excess tax revenues levied in Dona Ana and Sierra counties that could be otherwise spent paying off spaceport bonds or making infrastructure improvements such as paving a southern road to the spaceport.
- The $14.5 million that authorities have put aside to pave the road isn’t remotely enough to do the do a full paving job.
- Construction on the 24-mile road – which will provide more direct access from Las Cruces – is likely to begin next summer after the Bureau of Land Management completes its review of the project.
- SpaceX is about five months from being able to conduct flight tests of its reusable Falcon 9 vehicle at the spaceport.
- A new, unidentified tenant is expected to begin flights of whatever it flies sometime during fiscal year 2016.
Learn more below:
- Spaceport and its relationship to Dona Ana County discussed at NM finance committee meeting KVIA.com
- Spaceport America southern road takes spotlight before NM lawmakers Las Cruces Sun-News
- Federal tax money for Spaceport? Two NM congressional candidates support idea New Mexico Watchdog