Spaceport America, White Sands Sign Agreement on Coordinating Launches

Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America.

White Sands Missile Range and and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority have signed an agreement to coordinate launches from the rocket test facility and the adjoining Spaceport America commercial base:

Establishing a partnership that will continue a long history of space activities, White Sands Missile Range leaders and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority last month signed an agreement to coordinate launch schedules with the range….
(more…)

New Mexico Governor Seeks Advice on Spaceport America From Jack Schmitt

Former Apollo astronaut and U.S. Senator Harrison “Jack” Schmitt is poised to take a lead role in the administration of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. He is one of several astronauts providing advice to the new administration about the future of Spaceport America. And in a highly controversial move, the governor has nominated the conservative global warming skeptic to serve as secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Schmitt has been providing input to Gov. Martinez’s Spaceport Review Team, which is reviewing the project’s status, financing and future. The review team, which includes leaders from the business and space communities, is receiving advice from a number of astronauts, including space shuttle commander Sid Gutierrez.

(more…)

Rick Homans’ Letter of Resignation as NMSA Executive Director

Richard Branson, Bill Richardson and Rick Homans at the Spaceport America runway dedication ceremony.

To: Board of Directors, New Mexico Spaceport Authority
From: Rick Homans, Executive Director
Date: January 5, 2011
Re: Resignation

First, let me start by thanking each of you on the Board for your commitment to the NMSA and the Spaceport Authority. I have valued the many years that we have worked together. I particularly want to thank Ben Woods, who has served as Chairman for the last six months. We have all benefited from his steady hand and his reasoned approach to complex issues.

(more…)

Homans: New Governor Must Make “Complete Commitment” to Spaceport America

Richard Branson, Bill Richardson and Rick Homans at the Spaceport America runway dedication ceremony.

In a blunt letter of resignation to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors, outgoing Executive Director Rick Homas said that the $210 million effort to bring commercial space to the state requires a “complete commitment” from new Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to succeed:

“As of January 1, the Martinez Administration owns Spaceport America and all of its potential. The change that is taking place today is all part of taking ownership, and preparing for the challenges and heavy-lifting that lies ahead.

“Now that we have the spaceport nearly built, the harder work begins — we have to attract the customers, the operators, the manufacturers, suppliers and the R & D. We have to turn Spaceport America, and the surrounding communities, into a major visitor destination. We have to BE the leader of this new commercial spaceflight industry. All this is possible, but only if the Governor leads the way. She has to believe in the project and its massive potential to create jobs and impact education. She has to become its biggest champion and rally her Administration to support this effort. There is no middle ground – nothing short of complete commitment from Governor Martinez and her Administration will allow this project to achieve its full potential, which is the promise we made to the citizens of New Mexico, and particularly the citizens of Dona Ana and Sierra counties who taxed themselves to make Spaceport America happen.

(more…)

Homas Out as New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director

Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America.

New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Rick Homans has resigned after being ordered to by new Gov. Susana Martinez, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports:

Meanwhile, some Spaceport America board members expressed concerns about Martinez’s move and questioned whether Homans’ departure was good for the $209 million spaceport project as it goes through a key stage.

Homans, during an emergency meeting in Las Cruces, read a lengthy resignation statement, saying he’d hoped to stay longer.

“While I have embraced this project, it is clear that Gov. Martinez is not embracing me,” he said. “I understand politics, and I also understand how critical it is for her to have absolute trust and confidence in the executive leadership of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.”

Homas was involved in the spaceport project from the beginning in 2005 until 2007, when he left to take a job in private industry. He was reappointed as executive director in June after the board fired his predecessor, Steve Landeene, over his participation in a land deal involving property adjoining the spaceport in Upham.

Homas said the new governor gave him the choice of resigning or being fired. His resignation will be effective on Friday.

Martinez, a Republican, has taken over from Democrat Bill Richardson, who was limited to 8 years as governor. She has been more skeptical of the project than her predecessor, who championed the spaceport where Virgin Galactic will fly its SpaceShipTwo vehicle on suborbital flights. Martinez has ordered an audit of the spaceport authority’s spending and vowed to find ways of ensuring that the spaceport will no longer require state funding.

New Mexico Governor Plans Audit of Spaceport America, May Change Leadership

Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who has taken over from Bill Richardson, may shake things up a bit at the New Mexico Spaceport Authority:

Martinez said her transition team had requested information, such as a contract between Spaceport America and anchor tenant Virgin Galactic, from the Richardson administration and, as of Thursday, hadn’t received it. She said she wants to audit that contract and spending on the $200 million construction project.

(more…)

Editorial: Keep Rick Homas as NM Spaceport Authority Director

Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America.

The Las Cruces Sun-News says that incoming New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez can keep Spaceport America on track by leaving its leader in place:

Spaceport Authority Director Rick Homans has overseen the steady progress at the facility this past year. With the spaceport on schedule to open in 2011, this would be a poor time to change leadership. Homans, who served as Richardson’s first secretary for Economic Development, has been involved in the spaceport from the very beginning. He was instrumental in lobbying the Legislature for the funding needed to build the spaceport, and in securing Virgin Galactic as the anchor tenant. Homans served as the first director of the Spaceport Authority from 2005 to 2007, then was brought back last year after the resignation of Steve Landeene. This is a critical time for the spaceport, which dedicated its 10,000-foot runway earlier this year in a ceremony attended by Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson. Construction of the 110,152 square-foot terminal-hangar is ahead of schedule and expected to be substantially finished by March 2011. It is expected that the facility will open next year, and Virgin Galactic will begin taking passengers into space in either 2011 or 2012.

Read the full editorial.

Minor Delay in Spaceport America Construction

Work at spaceport halts for plan changes
Las Cruces Sun-News

Spaceport America officials have halted construction of a building at the site, as they rework its architectural plans.

A spaceport official said earlier this year that the 16,000 square-foot, dome-shaped aircraft rescue and firefighting building was slated for completion in December. But Rick Homans, executive director for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, recently halted construction in order to redesign its interior.

Homans contended the problem is a minor one in the larger scheme of the $212 million spaceport construction.

“We face challenges on the construction site every day, and this is just one of the many challenges,” he said. “Quite frankly I’m surprised at the level of attention it’s receiving because it’s regarded as a minor issue internally that has no impact on our budget or timetable.”

Read the full story.

NMSA Releases Spaceport America Operations RFPs

NMSA PRESS RELEASE

LAS CRUCES, NM — The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has issued Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for the day-to-day operations of Spaceport America, announced Rick Homans, Executive Director of the NMSA.

“Issuing these RFPs represents another major milestone on the path toward serving commercial spaceflight companies at Spaceport America,” Homans said. “The companies that win these awards will be on the front lines as we establish day-to-day operations for our launch customers.”

(more…)

Spaceport America Runway Dedicated

Photo by Mark Greenberg

NMSA PRESS RELEASE

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) today dedicated the nearly two-mile long “Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway” at Spaceport America, representing significant progress toward launching commercial customers into space from the desert of New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson, Sir Richard Branson and approximately 30 of more than 380 Virgin Galactic future astronauts attended the event along with guests from around the world and watched a flyover and landing by Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo, in a captive carry with SpaceShipTwo.

(more…)