The Las Cruces Sun Newsreports that Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks, who has led the organization since 2016, has been placed on administrative leave.
New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes, who chairs the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s board of directors, confirmed Thursday that Hicks was on leave pending an investigation, but did not provide further details.
Hicks did not immediately respond to a query from the Sun-News.
He succeeded Christine Anderson, who served as the spaceport’s CEO from 2011 until her retirement.
Previously, Hicks served for 34 years at White Sands Missile Range, ultimately assisting WSMR’s commanding general and its executive director. The Las Cruces native graduated from Las Cruces High School, earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State University and received an honorary selection to NMSU’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Academy.
SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, September 22, 2016 (Spaceport America PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA, today announced that the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors has selected Daniel Hicks as the new Chief Executive Officer.
The announcement follows a search by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board’s Search Committee to identify a new CEO, following the retirement of Christine Anderson, who previously held the position since 2011.
The final step took place today when the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Daniel Hicks as Spaceport America’s Chief Executive Officer.
Las Cruces Sun-News has a story. Anderson says she only wanted to do the job for a year, and it’s been 5.5 years.
UPDATE: Aaron Prescott, who was director of business development/business operations, also departed earlier this month. Aaron had been in that position since 2011, and had been at the spaceport in various posts for a total of eight years.
Aaron recently got married. So congratulations to him!
UPDATE No. 2: The Associated Press has a story that provides a bit more detail:
“Spaceport America is finally reaching its prime and the momentum must continue,” she wrote, pointing to more than two dozen vertical launches, agreements with new tenants and a more diverse business plan. “It’s important to ensure all the progress we have made will continue and thrive under new leadership.”
Anderson’s last day will be Aug. 19. She offered to help the board and the governor’s office find a qualified candidate to take the helm of the agency….
While there’s no firm date for Virgin Galactic to begin commercial flights, Anderson said earlier this year that the company could be launching as soon as the 2018 fiscal year.
New Mexico State Sen. Lee Cotter (R-Las Cruces) has renewed efforts to bring tax relief to residents of Dona Ana and Sierra counties relating to their support of Spaceport America.
In 2007, residents of the two counties agreed to increase their taxes to help fund the construction of the facility, which is located outside of Truth or Consequences. The taxes remain in place to pay off bonds sold to fund Spaceport America’s construction.
SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, November 6, 2015 (Spaceport America PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, announced the successful launch today of an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft™rocket carrying several scientific and engineering experiments. The launch took place this morning at 8:01 MST from Spaceport America’s Vertical Launch Complex-1 on the East Campus. This launch represents Spaceport America’s 24th overall launch and the fourth from Spaceport America with NASA Flight Opportunities Program payloads.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides was in Albuquerque. NM, on Tuesday where he assured local business leaders about the future of his company’s SpaceShipTwo space tourism vehicle and its future home, Spaceport America.
Whitesides said the second SpaceShipTwo could be finished within a few months, although he did not provide any timetables for completion, ground and flight tests or the start of commercial operations from New Mexico.
The Virgin Galactic chief also repeated the claim that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had cleared SpaceShipTwo in its investigation of the crash of vehicle’s prototype last October that killed co-pilot Mike Alsbury.
NTSB did identify pilot error by Alsbury and a design deficiency as the probable cause of the crash. The agency also recommended changes to prevent a recurrence of the accident that Virgin Galactic is implementing. However, it’s not clear how the accident investigation constitutes a clearing of the ship’s design or rocket engine as Virgin Galactic claims.
Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson also expressed optimism, pointing to the signing of two new tenants at the Spaceport in recent months. Anderson is trying to close a gap in the spaceport’s budget caused by delays in Virgin Galactic’s commercial space operations.
“We’re at a fabulous point now. We’re expanding our business base,” she said.
SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, September 1, 2015 (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America – the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport announced today ARCA Space Corporation has selected Spaceport America as the site for its space launch vehicle and high altitude autonomous aircraft testing.
ARCA Space Corporation was founded in the United States in July 2014 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. ARCA will engineer, manufacture, test and bring to market innovative and affordable aerospace products such as the AirStrato UAS and Haas rocket series from its new global headquarters.
“Our assumption is that they wouldn’t begin commercial flights with passengers until July 2016,” [Executive Director Christine] Anderson said in an interview. “That’s just an assumption. It doesn’t mean I know any more than anyone else, but it means that I had to base my budget on something.”
Well, fair enough. I guess she has to base the budget on something. It would be nice if that something was a little more realistic. A July start doesn’t appear to be so at the moment.
Spaceport America, N.M., May 13, 2015 (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, announced the publication of its go-to-market strategy and business plan today.
With construction winding down, Spaceport America is officially open for business following today’s approval of a new go-to-market strategy and five-year business plan by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s (NMSA) board of directors. The plan was presented to the board by Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson.
SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson announced today that Tammara Anderton will become the spaceport’s first Director of Marketing. Anderton brings over 25 years of experience in international brand strategy and marketing communication. Anderton has extensive multi-stakeholder engagement experience spanning the biotechnology, energy, healthcare, mobile and wireless, environmental, financial services, and non-profit sectors. She held international executive management positions with Saatchi Saatchi, OTM Brand, Unaxis, and CellTrust.
New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) Executive Director Christine Anderson briefed Dona Ana C0unty officials on the status of Spaceport America on Tuesday.
Anderson told commissioners that anchor tenant Virgin Galactic has talked about beginning flight tests on its second SpaceShipTwo vehicle this year, ” so “perhaps” the company will be able to begin commercial flights from Spaceport America in 2016.