Witt Call Spaceport America “Gold Mine,” Urges NM to Keep on Digging

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air & Space Port General Manager and CEO Stu Witt was in New Mexico this week, reminding people of how much money they’ve invested in Spaceport America and urging them to continue digging into what he called a “gold mine”:

“When I read in the papers and I hear, ‘do we want to continue to invest, it’s going to be a while before (Virgin Galactic) is operational.’ Well, let me tell you what, you’re in it,” Witt said. “You made a $200 million investment, and you’re sitting on a facility like I’ve never seen.

“You’re sitting on a gold mine at Spaceport America.”

Pay Hynes, director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium and coordinator for the annual symposium, noted that Spaceport America belongs to the people of New Mexico, not Sir Richard Branson or Virgin Galactic.

“The responsibility is ours to make Spaceport America a success,” she said. “It’s not Virgin Galactic’s responsibility. Spaceport America is owned by the state of New Mexico. It’s our responsibility.”

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Virgin Galactic Outlines Plans for Move to Spaceport America

Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America
Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America

While engineers in Mojave prepare WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo for another round of test flights, others in the company are preparing to ramp up operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic senior program manager Mark Butler recently provided a status report to the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce. The Las Cruces Bulletin reports:

Currently, there are five pilots ready to go, and they need four for operations. By the time Virgin Galactic is ready to launch the space tourism program, it will have eight fully trained pilots. (more…)