State support for New Mexico spaceport

The announcement this week that Virgin Galactic will establish operations at a new spaceport in New Mexico raises a question: just who is going to pay for building the spaceport, estimated to cost between $200 and $250 million? The state is expected to provide at least $100 million towards its construction (the rest to come from unspecified local and federal sources) and, according to news reports, the state legislature is expected to approve that funding. State senator Leonard Lee Rawson, a Republican from Las Cruces (near where the spaceport will be built), doesn’t have a problem supporting a project backed by a Democratic governor. “It’s new jobs; it’s economic development. I don’t think it’s a conservative or liberal issue,” he told the Albuquerque Tribune. State House speaker Ben Lujan, a Democrat, told the Washington Post, “We’ll get this through the legislature, that’s a promise.”

The Post also points out that state governor Bill Richardson is also contemplating a run for President in 2008: “The 58-year-old Hispanic governor is working to portray himself as a ‘different kind of Democrat’ who is willing to work with the private sector on daring initiatives, his campaign planners say. [Richard] Branson suggested that Richardson’s gamble on the spaceport could pay political dividends.” However, the spaceport won’t be in full operation, at least as far as Virgin Galactic is concerned, before the 2008 election.

[Disclosure: my employer was hired to perform some economic impact assessments of the new spaceport, and some preliminary “forward-looking” (that is, optimistic) estimates were released as part of this week’s announcement.]

6 comments to State support for New Mexico spaceport

  • I usually like Bill Richardson, but I don’t like this. New Mexico is buying some snake oil to please a faction. (And distribute patronage. Where they say “jobs”, that’s a name for the meat that comes from a pig.) They ought to wait for “Virgin Galactic” to prove that it is a viable business, then maybe build a “space port”.

  • Aaron Oesterle

    Greg, this is hardly snake oil – Recent marketstudies have shown that major interest in Space tourism – http://www.futron.com/press/zogbypoll.htm – Basically, almost 20% of the population who can affoard this would be willing to pay for it – Branson has already gotten 100 people to pay the full price of $200,000 , and significant more to put a $20,000 downpayment on a ticket. Believe me, this is no snake oil – We are much closer to Space Tourism and Space Colonization than most people think

  • Here’s what to look out for:

    2005: Gov. Richardson funnels $100 Million toward state support of the rocket port.

    2008: Richard Branson funnels, discretely, 1million into Gov. Richardson campaign.

    No tracable quid pro quo …

    Just like Mark Rich and Clinton

  • Aaron Oesterle

    Fred, oh, you so don’t wanna make comments about dems and money issues – not with the way the R’s are doing

  • David Davenport

    Greg, this is hardly snake oil – Recent marketstudies have shown that major interest in Space tourism

    But why are American taxpayers supposed to pay for a new airport for Virgin Airlines? — Oh, I meant new “spaceport.”

    This is old-fashioned porkbarreling at its worst. They might as well plan to pave some new twelve lane freeways in the area too, or announce a new high speed commuter railway to connect the so-called spaceport to Los Angeles.

    And remember, space cadets, money spent on this “spaceport” is money that will not be available to
    spend on actual spacecraft hardware.

  • David Davenport

    This porkbarrel deal is gonna discredit alt.space.