Conference Attendees to Tour Spaceport America

NMSA PR — Attendees at ISPCS 2011 will have an opportunity to tour the nearly-completed Spaceport America on Friday, Oct. 21, following the conference. Spaceport America and New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) staff members will provide attendees with exclusive insight into the project.

“On behalf of the NMSA, we are enthusiastic about hosting the ISPCS tour to Spaceport America this year,” said Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the Spaceport Authority. “I hope you will be as excited about the progress we have made as we are! The commercial space industry is making great strides and we are happy to be part of that bright future.”


Did Richardson Oversell Spaceport America’s Potential?

Bloomberg News has a story looking at the challenges facing Spaceport America as it nears completion in the New Mexico desert. The article raises the real possibility that then-Gov. Bill Richardson sold the project to the state’s taxpayers based on overly optimistic economic assumptions:

Now, Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican who replaced Richardson in January, has ordered an audit of the spaceport’s spending and said the facility must secure private investment to augment the public money. Spaceport director Christine Andersen, who took charge in February, disavows the earlier job projections, calling them a “feel-good plan.”


Mystery Company Could Build New Spaceport on Texas Gulf Coast

Here’s an intriguing bit of news about the possible resurrection of the South Texas Spaceport project:

Negotiations to bring an aerospace company to Willacy County for commercial satellite launchings are intensifying, according to County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr.

He said he cannot yet release the name of the company. But he said, “They’ll be investing up to $50 million and hiring 100 to 200 full-time people, from low-end labor up to electrical engineers. Wages will be at least 30 percent above the local norm.”


Hawaiian Legislature Pushes Ahead on Spaceport Application

The Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaiian State Senators are debating a bill that would allow the state to apply for a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration. A similar measure passed the Legislature last year, but no money was appropriated for it by then-Gov. Linda Lingle.

The full text of Senate Bill 112, which was introduced by Sen. Will Espero, is shown after the break.


Branson Urged Governor Martinez to Keep Rick Homans as NMSA Chief

Sir Richard Branson and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

In an interview with the Las Cruces Sun-News, Gov. Susana Martinez said she dismissed New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Rick Homans despite a plea from Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson:

Martinez acknowledged that Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson called her to request that former spaceport Executive Director Rick Homans be retained, but said she needed to make a change, in part because her team has not been able to conduct a thorough review of spaceport operations. She removed both Homans and the spaceport board, and has yet to name replacements.


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.

Indiana Developing Spaceport

State considers making Columbus primary spaceport

Columbus is being considered as the state’s primary port to space under an Indiana House bill that would approve tax incentives for space-technology businesses.


NM Officials Seek Liability Waiver to Protect Space Tourism Operators

An artist's conception of a Virgin Galactic flight above Spaceport America in New Mexico
An artist's conception of a Virgin Galactic flight above Spaceport America in New Mexico

Spaceport officials seek way to reduce liability
Las Cruces Sun-News

New Mexico spaceport officials said Wednesday they’ll again seek legislation that would effectively reduce legal liability for companies that launch from Spaceport America.


Commercial Spaceflight Federation Creates Spaceports Council



Washington, D.C., November 23, 2009 – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the creation and initial membership of the Spaceports Council, composed of spaceports worldwide who seek to cooperate on issues of common interest such as airspace access, legal and regulatory frameworks, infrastructure, international policy migration, liability, and voluntary common operating standards.


Spaceports in New Mexico, Sweden Compete and Cooperate in Space Tourism

The road to Spaceport America is now paved only with red dirt. Virgin Galactic and New Mexico hope it will soon be paved in gold. (Photo Credit: Lucinda Weisbach)
The road to Spaceport America is now paved only with red dirt. Virgin Galactic and New Mexico hope it will soon be paved in gold. (Photo Credit: Lucinda Weisbach)

Space industry arrives in New Mexico
Las Cruces Bulletin

A model for making the $198 million Spaceport America 45 miles north of Las Cruces a tourist destination can be found in the contingency from Spaceport Sweden. Although its spaceport launch facilities was developed from an existing operation, Sweden emphasizes other attractions than just launches, such as reindeer rides, the Northern Lights and a stay in a hotel made of ice.


CSF to Congress: Fund Program for Spaceport Improvements

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is calling upon Congress and the Obama Administration to provide federal funding to the nation’s spaceports under an unfunded 1993 law:

Unlike airports, commercial spaceports currently have no opportunity to apply for federal matching dollars for infrastructure to support operations and protect public safety. In the 1993 NASA Authorization Act (Public Law No. 102-588), Congress authorized a new program to support commercial space transportation facilities, but no funding has been appropriated to date.


Spaceport America Runway Construction Progresses

Spaceport America
Spaceport America


The construction of a new runway is well underway at Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials have released new aerial photos taken on September 13, 2009, of the 10,000-foot runway project, which is designed to accommodate horizontal launch space and air operations at the spaceport. The runway is expected to be complete by late Summer 2010.