Spaceport America Confidential Records Act Dies

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal hangar facility (center), Spaceport Operations Center (Left) and “Spaceway” (Runway) at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

The Spaceport Confidential Records Act, which would have shielded certain details of Spaceport America’s business dealings from public scrutiny, has died in committee.

The measure, which proponents said was required to attract new tenants to the southern New Mexico spaceport, never made it out of the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Critics said the act would not allow the citizens to know crucial details of the $218.5 million publicly funded project.

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Changes Set for Spaceport America Tours

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

UPDATE:  Just got a call from Spaceport America. Here’s what they say is going on:

Follow the Sun Tours was running tours of the spaceport from the visitors center in Truth or Consequences. Tourists signed up online or arrived in person. The company also brings in tour groups on coaches from Albuquerque and El Paso.

Follow the Sun Tours will continue to bus in tourists from Albuquerque. The spaceport authority has lined up a new tour company to handle the tours from the visitors center in Truth or Consequences. An announcement will be made soon about the new tour company and an upgraded visitor experience.

Bad news, everyone. Tours of Spaceport America are now suspended until further notice.

For a while, people could at least get a tour of the futuristic facility until now. Follow the Sun Tours Inc. notified the City of Truth or Consequences in December it could no longer provide tours for Spaceport America.

4 Investigates asked Spaceport America when tours will relaunch. A representative over the phone told said they will try to relaunch tours in May once a new tour company is secured. Then KOB-TV was told Spaceport America only wanted to do “positive” stories with the station.

Meanwhile, seniors in Truth or Consequences are furious they had to give up their recreation space at the Lee Belle Johnson Center for the now non-existent tours….

The senior recreation center has been relocated to the city’s civic center.

 

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Video: Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides Interview

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides was interviewed on the TMRO Space show on Saturday. The interview begins at 20:54 in the above video.

Below are the highlights of the interview.

SpaceShipTwo

Whitesides was asked whether SpaceShipTwo could fly above the Karman line at 100 km (62.1 miles), which is the internationally recognized boundary of space. He didn’t provide a yes or no answer.

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NM Senate Committee Votes to Keep Some Spaceport America Details Secret

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

A measure to hide certain details of Spaceport America’s business dealings from public scrutiny is making its way through the New Mexico Senate.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee obliged Friday, backing a bill to exclude many spaceport business dealings from the state’s public records law. Its members voted 5-2 to allow the spaceport to withhold information about clients in the space business.

Sens. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, and Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, dissented. Senate Bill 429 heads next to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The spaceport’s executives say confidentiality is key to attracting business in the fiercely competitive industry of space flights for the wealthy and other ventures in aeronautics.

But Steinborn, Stefanics and transparency advocates say the bill would block from public view parts of a project that critics have lambasted as a boondoggle.

“The taxpayers of this state have already given hundreds of millions of dollars to the spaceport project,” Greg Williams, president of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, told the Public Affairs Committee. “Our citizens certainly have a great interest in how it is operated going forward.”

Read the full story.

 

Boeing Tests Starliner Parachute

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, March 10, 2017 (Boeing PR) – Boeing test teams reached a significant milestone for the CST-100 Starliner program by testing the parachute system Starliner will use on its return to Earth.

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Spaceport America, FieldTripZoom Partner to Offer Virtual Field Trips, STEM Content

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal hangar facility (center), Spaceport Operations Center (Left) and “Spaceway” (Runway) at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, February 14, 2017 (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA, and FieldTripZoom, a live and interactive educational content platform for K-12 classrooms, today announced their partnership to make a range of Spaceport America STEM and other educational content available to every K-12 classroom across the State of New Mexico – free of charge.

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Spaceport America Southern Road Improvements Move Forward

Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility in October 2011. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

A project to improve a 24-mile dirt road to Spaceport America is moving forward, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Doña Ana County commissioners in mid-December OK’d an agreement with several government entities involved in the southern-road project that spells out its parameters and how historical and cultural sites will be protected during construction.
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Spaceport America Rocket Competition Set

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal hangar facility (center), Spaceport Operations Center (Left) and "Spaceway" (Runway) at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal hangar facility (center), Spaceport Operations Center (Left) and “Spaceway”
(Runway) at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (Press Release) –Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA and the Experimental Rocket Sounding Association (ESRA), today announced inauguration of the annual Spaceport America Cup.

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Registration is Open for Spaceport America Drone Summit

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, NM (Spaceport America PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA has partnered with the New Mexico Filmmakers Give Back, the International Cinematographers Guild and the AMA – Academy of Model Aeronautics to bring together drone enthusiasts from across the USA and beyond to share in three action-packed days of racing, workshops, R/C fixed wing airplane demos and an aerial cinematography contest inside the futuristic horizontal launch campus.

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Spaceport America Names New CEO

Daniel Hicks
Daniel Hicks

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.

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Virgin Galactic, ISPCS to Hold Diversity Workshop

Final LogoVirgin Galactic and the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) are teaming to hold a diversity in the workplace workshop at Spaceport America on Oct. 14.

The SUMMIT: The Power of Inclusion “is a highly interactive workshop experience held at Virgin Galactic’s operating base at the Gateway to Space facility at Spaceport America in New Mexico on Friday, October 14th. We will be incorporating experience with short, informative, and surprising truths about why some teams thrive and others falter,” according to the ISPCS website. “The event will provide insights and tools for personal growth, learning and empowerment. The agenda will energize us as we identify and prioritize what each of us wants to bring into our workplace in the year ahead.”

Registration is $500 per person. Sign up here.

The workshop comes right after ISPCS, which is on Oct. 12-13.

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Spaceport America to Hold Series of Events

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal hangar facility (center), Spaceport Operations Center (Left) and "Spaceway" (Runway) at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal hangar facility (center), Spaceport Operations Center (Left) and “Spaceway” (Runway) at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, August 15, 2016 (Spaceport America PR) – Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA announced today the introduction of five annual Spaceport America branded signature events.

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Anderson: Spaceport America Generated $104 Million*

Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Richard Branson and his children hang out with Project Bandaloop dancers during the dedication of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility in October 2011. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson has taken to New Mexico media to say that things are going great at the spaceport as she steps down this week.

“Spaceport America is alive and well,” she declared in an op-ed in the Las Cruces Sun-News. “It saddens me to read uninformed articles to the contrary.”

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Anderson Departs Spaceport America

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.