17 February 2006
Space, the final frontier
Virgin Galactic's goal of providing commercial flights into space, just got a step closer to reality.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico – New Mexico lawmakers agreed today to proceed on a three-year commitment of funds to build a regional spaceport, designed to support commercial rocket launchings, including passenger-carrying suborbital vehicles. "Our view of this is all systems go for the spaceport," said New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans, also Chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority in nearby Santa Fe. "This sends out a message loud and clear that New Mexico is setting out on this bold plan," Homans told reporters in a telephone briefing. "This is real and we're moving forward on this." Legislative go-ahead The New Mexico legislature offered broad, bipartisan support for the spaceport, Homans said, despite early skepticism in some political quarters regarding the project. Specific actions taken by the legislature included authorizing a $100 million in capital outlay over fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2009 towards the spaceport. "That is a financial commitment from the state. There's no need to go back for any other approvals in terms of getting money authorized every year," Homans added. There are several conditions put upon the expenditure of the money, such as successfully obtaining a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) commercial space transportation office. Also, state lawmakers want official cost estimates that certify the spaceport can be built at or below a projected $225 million price tag, Homans said.