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.
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…