20 June 2009
Note that while this spaceport is being financed by the state, Virgin Galactic is investing some 250 million in spacecraft to use the facility. We're still waiting for that private business investment in the KLC - state and federal funding and still not able to cover operation costs with launch revenues (no launches = no revenues).
Note the comments near the end of the article made by Roberto Valdez - think of commercial fishing in Alaska and you'll see the parallels.
KLC continues to beg for more and more federal taxpayer funding because it is unable to attract any private, commercial interest or investment. The facility should never have been built until it could be proved that commercial launches would actually occur.
By Diana M. Alba / Las Cruces Sun-News
Posted: 06/20/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT
Conquistadores face a new frontier. Modern-day adventures broke ground Friday at Upham, N.M., for Spaceport America, the first commercial spaceport to take people into outer space. Roberto Valdez, of Espanola, leads a group dressed as conquistadores who came with Don Juan de Onate to the new frontier of New Mexico in 1598. (Norm Dettlaff / Sun-News)
If you could afford it, would you take a ride into space? Read story
Yes, in a heartbeat.
Absolutely, to infinity and beyond.
No, I like to keep my feet on the ground.
No, because it will never be affordable for me.
UPHAM, N.M. -- Against the slate-blue backdrop of the San Andres Mountains, officials on Friday symbolically marked the start of construction on Spaceport America and launched a new era of adventure for mankind: commercial space travel.
Spaceport officials have said they expect the $200 million project to wrap up in 18 to 24 months, and an official with the space flight company Virgin Galactic said it could send the first tourists into space in two years, depending on how quickly technology develops.
Gov. Bill Richardson said the spaceport is possible because of investments on the part of the state and Virgin Galactic, which is putting about $250 million into creating the spacecraft that will be used.
"We took a risk, we gambled and we won," he said.
Some people expressed disappointment that a planned flyover by WhiteKnightTwo -- the carrier vehicle for Virgin Galactic's spaceship -- didn't take place. It was en route to New Mexico from its California base when pilots decided to land it in Phoenix because of a technical concern.
But spaceport officials announced that the plane would fly over the Las Cruces International Airport at 9:30 a.m. today. The public can attend.
Speakers said the project would be not only a platform to launch tourists into space, but also an avenue for developing new technologies and science that will benefit humanity.
Spaceport Authority Executive Director Steve Landeene said the possibilities include space-based telecommunications
and solar power.
"This is reality, and it will happen," he said. "The people who say it can't happen -- that's the wrong type of attitude."
The spaceport, situated southeast of Truth or Consequences, will feature a runway, terminal, hangars and supporting infrastructure.
The groundbreaking began with 10 members of the group Sociedad de la Entrada, which re-enacts events from New Mexican history, marching through the desert in Spanish conquistador costumes. After speeches by officials, a road-grader ceremonially cleared the first patch of dirt. Then Richardson scooped a miniature shovel of dirt and placed it in a model rocket, which was launched into the sky.
The people attending were enthusiastic and snapped photographs.
Jerry Johnson of Alamogordo said those photographs would be important someday, after the spaceport is established.
"If you got tape of what things looked like today, 10 years from now, people won't believe it looked like that," he said.
But support wasn't entirely unanimous.
Roberto Valdez of Española, a member of Sociedad de la Entrada, said he has doubts about the project, mostly because he believes other industries that have been established in New Mexico -- he cited the movie industry, the nuclear industry and the national laboratories -- have exploited the state's resources and brought little benefit to native residents.
"I remain skeptical about the spaceport," he said. "As the saying goes: 'Behind every spearhead, there's a shaft.' Behind every endeavor, somebody gets the short end of the stick."
Spaceport officials estimated about 460 people attended the groundbreaking. They were shuttled in from Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces in tour buses.
Diana M. Alba can be reached at email@example.com; 575- 541-5443
By the numbers
# $200 million -- cost of building Spaceport America.
# 18 to 24 months -- expected length of time to construct the project.
# 10,000 feet -- length of the runway to be built at the spaceport.
Source: New Mexico Spaceport Authority