New Mexico Spaceport Authority
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The New Mexico Spaceport Authority is a non-governmental panel, appointed by the Governor of New Mexico, whose members represent the public sector in the development and construction of Spaceport America, a facility, under construction as of March 2012, that is expected to enter operation as the first privately operated active spaceport in the United States.
Spaceport America was built with State money and bond funding provided by county debt. Two-thirds of the $212 million used to build the spaceport was paid by the State of New Mexico with the rest provided by bonds backed by Doña Ana and Sierra county, which will be partially repaid by locally generated sales tax revenues. The state of New Mexico has privatized the operations of Spaceport America; the spaceport will be operated by Virgin Galactic, a component of the Virgin Group of global companies operated by Sir Richard Branson. While the Spaceport Authority will exercise public-sector oversight, Virgin Galactic will be the "anchor tenant" of the spaceport.
In February 2011, the governor of New Mexico appointed Christine Anderson as executive director of the Spaceport Authority. In April 2011, the Authority announced that its budget for fiscal year 2012 had been reduced by 57 percent. In March 2012, the Authority announced that it had completed what it called Phase I of the Virgin/Spaceport America construction project. This Phase I included a 10,000-foot runway, a terminal hangar, and a domed Space Operations Center. Phase II, the visitor center and actual liftoff pad, remained unbuilt as of March 2012.
The current status of Virgin Galactic, the sole prospective tenant of the New Mexico Spaceport and its Authority, has led members of the New Mexico legislature to sharply question Executive Director Anderson. After an incident on October 31, 2014, Virgin Galactic indefinitely postponed its planned operational startup date in New Mexico. In November 2014, Anderson requested that the legislature consider creating an supplemental emergency fund to enable the spaceport to maintain its operations, and told lawmakers that the Authority will try to rent out the spaceport for "video shoots or concerts."
- "Spaceport America near Las Cruces heads into Phase II". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- Roberts, Chris (2010-10-23). "New era draws closer: Spaceport dedicates runway on New Mexico ranch". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
two-thirds of the $212 million required to build the spaceport came from the state of New Mexico... The rest came from construction bonds backed by a tax approved by voters in Doña Ana and Sierra counties.
- "Governor Susana Martinez Announces Christine Anderson as Spaceport Executive Director". Spaceport America. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- "NM spaceport authority discusses 57 percent budget cut and spending plan". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
- "Spaceport Sits Empty, Future Commercial Spaceflight in Jeopardy". Utah People's Post. Retrieved 2014-11-22.