That was how the report “Commercial Spaceports Still Waiting For Liftoff” characterized Spaceport America in 2018; and judging by the media coverage, Spaceport America continues to live up to that characterization.
Spaceport America in New Mexico is the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport. The spaceport is licensed by the FAA for horizontal and vertical launches.
The spaceport was built and is operated by the New Mexico state government. Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant. The facility cost the state government over $220 million. Spaceport America currently operates at a loss with rental and user fees only covering 60% of the costs to operate and maintain. The budget shortfall is paid for by the New Mexico state government.
Unfortunately, Spaceport America has all the makings of a White Elephant.
The spaceport has been controversial since the beginning. The contentious issues include:
- the amount of tax money invested,
- ongoing operations and maintenance deficits financed by the government,
- critical dependency upon the success of Virgin Galactic,
- lack of transparency,
- lack of oversight, and
Some examples of the media coverage follow…
New Mexico’s Sad Bet On Space Exploration
Spaceport America: New Mexico’s Protracted Gamble On Space Flight
New Mexico Considering Legislation To Sell Spaceport America
Spaceport America Spending Criticized
Sierra County Commissioners Have Blocked Spaceport Tax Board From Exercising Fiscal Oversight For Years
Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic: The Numbers Never Added Up
Transparency Problems Plague Spaceport America
Former New Mexico spaceport CFO alleges fraud
Audit Report Details – New Mexico Spaceport Authority 2020
Report Concludes Former Spaceport America Director Violated State Laws
Former Spaceport CFO Files $200 Million Lawsuit Against State
Virgin Galactic’s Struggles Raise Questions About New Mexico Spaceport’s Future