Friday, April 6, 2007

Spaceport a Go!

From the NM Economic Development Department:

Spaceport America Ready for Blast Off
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Spaceport Referendum Passes in Dona Ana County

LAS CRUCES – Final design and engineering for Spaceport America will move into "high gear" as a result of passage of the Spaceport Tax in Dona Ana County, according to Rick Homans, chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and the state's cabinet secretary for economic development.

"This positive vote ignites the final design, engineering and construction of Spaceport America," said Homans. "We can now say that Spaceport America is ready for blast off – all systems are go. New Mexico is prepared to launch a whole new era of discovery, exploration and commercial activity in space, on the Moon and beyond. We have nothing but beautiful black sky ahead of us."

The tax is expected to generate approximately $6.5 million a year for 20-years. Up to 25-percent, $1.6 million, of the revenue will be used to fund math and science programs in the county school system. The other 75 percent, $4.9 million, will be used as a revenue stream to bond approximately $50 million towards the construction of Spaceport America.

Homans said the next two critical milestones for Spaceport America will be the Record of Decision (ROD) on the Environmental Impact Statement, and then receipt of the site operator's license from the Federal Aviation Administration, expected in the first quarter of 2008.

Homans said he expects the spaceport to be operational by late 2009 or early 2010.
"Winning this election was one of the biggest hurdles we faced when we proposed this project in December 2005," said Homans. "All of us involved with Spaceport America extend a major thank you to the voters of Dona Ana County for the confidence they have expressed in this project and our ability to make it happen."

Homans also expressed gratitude to People for Aerospace, and its co-chairs John Hummer, County Commissioner Bill McCamley, and Ambassador Delano Lewis, for their efforts to pass the tax and to support Spaceport America.

Homans cited a number of challenges that have been overcome since the announcement of Spaceport America in December 2005:

- received state funding of $125 million;

- reached agreement with ranchers to co-exist;

- signed lease agreement with State Land Office;

- negotiated Memorandum of Agreement with White Sands Missile Range;

- negotiated Memorandum of Agreement with Virgin Galactic for 20-year lease;

- approved official cost estimate for spaceport below $225 million;

- formed relationship with National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association to collaborate on ways to preserve and protect El Camino Real and to maximize education and marketing opportunities.

About Spaceport America
Spaceport America is a landmark project that will be built in Sierra County, 45 miles northeast of Las Cruces. According to economic forecasts by NMSU and Futron, Spaceport America may spur up to 5,000 new jobs and up to $1 billion in new revenue in the state. Spaceport America is scheduled to open for business in late 2009 or early 2010.

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