Spaceport America Appeals to Cash Strapped Legislature

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Sunset at the "Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space" terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

Spaceport America officials are going hat in hand to the New Mexico Legislature as the capital is getting hit with a deluge of bad economic news.

Economists are expected to release new state revenue estimates this week. And given the relentless slide in oil prices – on which about 12.5 percent of New Mexico’s direct general fund revenue depends – legislators may have significantly less to work with in fiscal 2017 as they try to fund everything from public education to Medicaid – as well as the day-to-day operations of the $218.5 million Spaceport America.

Crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped from more than $50 a barrel in November to about $30 a barrel Monday. Every $1 drop in the price of oil amounts to a state revenue reduction of about $10 million.

In the past few years, the spaceport has gotten about $462,000 annually from the Legislature to help fund operations. Gov. Susana Martinez’s proposed $6.5 billion budget asks for the same annual outlay for the spaceport plus an additional, non-recurring $2.35 million “for operating costs due to a shortfall in revenue from other sources.”

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  • Emmet Ford

    Shut it down. VG is years away at best.

  • Hemingway

    Abu Dhabi Aabar Investments that has a 37.8% stake in Virgin Galactic’s
    holding company has financial problems. It will interesting how this
    will turn out. It invested $390 million in Virgin Galactic.
    http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/61776/Aabar-seeks-$25bn-to-refinance-loan

  • Hemingway

    With respect to the Spaceport America there is a real chance that it
    will fail as a true commercial
    spaceport. In a realistic commercial undertaking, investors would expect
    to get at least a return on capital investment within about 10 years.
    the State of New Mexico may have to subsidize the operations of the
    spaceport, unless new markets can be found and captured. Unfortunately
    the spaceport has attracted only a few small companies with no real
    chance of development.

  • Jason Miller

    It should be shut down so we can stop throwing good money after bad, but I’ve little doubt that our state legislators will succumb to the classic sunk-cost fallacy.

  • MachineAgeChronicle

    This does not seem to worry all those small towns and cities dreaming of a spaceport.

  • patb2009

    All the Oil States are under pressure. What i don’t understand is why SpacePort America doesn’t try and get Burning Man and other big festivals to come out there? They have a large facility with some infrastructure, they could support a pretty decent crowd and have fewer issues.

  • Douglas Messier

    I doubt Burning Man would move.

    There was supposed to be some music festival out there, and Lady Gaga was going to sing from space. With flights delayed, I haven’t heard anything about it for a while.

    Getting to the location remains an issue. A single two-lane road from TorC. Limited water on site. A lot of logistical challenges. Probably can be overcome, but still challenging.