Spaceport America Wants $2 Million More From Taxpayers For Its Space Tourism Fantasy
If you build it, the space tourists will come
. That was the promise to the taxpayers of
New Mexico is one of the poorest states
in the country
. So it's easy to see why state legislators wanted to attract new jobs and businesses. Lawmakers were promised that if they helped finance a new spaceport in the middle of the desert, they'd attract millions of dollars in the burgeoning field of
Unfortunately, Spaceport America and billionaire business tycoon Richard Branson's
From the Albuquerque Journal :
In the past few years, the spaceport has gotten about $462,000 annually from the Legislature to help fund operations. Gov. Susana Martinez's proposed $6.5 billion budget asks for the same annual outlay for the spaceport plus an additional, non-recurring $2.35 million "for operating costs due to a shortfall in revenue from other sources."
Right now, Virgin Galactic, the only active tenant in the facility, pays just $1 million per year to lease the Spaceport. They started paying in 2013, and their bill will increase to $3 million in 2018. But that pales in comparison to the money that has already been shelled out, and continues to be shelled out , by the state.
After Virgin Galactic's tragic failure in 2014, when SpaceShipTwo exploded and killed one pilot , the people of New Mexico became even more pessimistic that space tourism would flourish in their state. Lawmakers are getting desperate to see their investment pay off. One idea for the Spaceport is to have it function as more of an entertainment or conference center. But that require more legislation to let Spaceport America do whatever it wants.
Again, from the Albuquerque Journal :
Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has introduced Senate Bill 147 at the spaceport's behest to provide the facility with a governmental liquor license like the ones universities and some museums have, ostensibly to polish the facility's credentials as an event location.
Virgin Galactic is actively trying to get a Spaceport
built in the UK
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(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan )