Spaceport America boss asks New Mexico for an additional $ 2 million | Ap


ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Operations are ramping up at Spaceport America in New Mexico, and the executive director told lawmakers on Monday he needed an additional $ 2 million in annual funding to maintain momentum.

Scott McLaughlin testified before a legislative science and technology committee. Without the funding, he warned he would have to cut staff and limit operations at the Desert Outpost to just five days a week. Now, the spaceport operates 24 hours a day according to customer needs.

The current budget is around $ 10 million, of which around 60% comes from customers such as main tenant Virgin Galactic, which reach the edge of space over the summer with billionaire Richard Branson aboard his winged rocket.

McLaughlin told lawmakers the goal is to increase income and the return on investment will be jobs for the southern New Mexico economy. He pointed to about 460 direct and indirect jobs that arise from activity at the spaceport, saying that activity results in around $ 2 million in taxes that are returned to the state.

The additional money requested “would stabilize us and get us to a point where we could just grow, and we could serve the customers that we have and continue to attract more customers,” McLaughlin said.

Investors will expect Virgin Galactic to start commercial flights at the end of 2022. McLaughlin said that by 2023, it is expected that around three flights per month from the spaceport will be expected, which is expected to generate more revenue. .

Meanwhile, rocket company SpinLaunch recently tested its spaceport launch system and said it would return next year for further testing.

McLaughlin said the idea is to sell New Mexico as a “complete ecosystem” that can accommodate the aerospace industry through competitive tax policies and access to researchers at universities and state laboratories. He told lawmakers New Mexico didn’t have to lose customers to California, Texas or Florida.

Spaceport officials also plan to begin work on obtaining a re-entry license from federal aviation officials. Along with vertical and horizontal launches, McLaughlin said this could open a new path for customers.

The New Mexico Legislature will meet in January for a 30-day budget-focused session. Revenue projections suggest the state will likely be afloat.

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