Gateway to the New Frontier
The Economic Impact of Spaceport America
Originally appearing in the Las Cruces Moves and Real Estate Weekly El Paso as part of a PR campaign pending a bond vote to begin construction
Only a year has passed since Spaceport America’s first commercial rocket launch, yet the Spaceport Authority has made steady progress in that time. “We’ve moved from the planning stage to the design stage,” Wayne Savage of DMJM Aviation announced at a recent Business on the Border luncheon. He notes that the Spaceport Authority hopes to see an official groundbreaking for the spaceport as soon as March 9, 2009.
Located 40 miles north of Las Cruces, the site for the proposed facilities rests on 17,000 acres of state land. Construction of the spaceport will require a massive undertaking, with a terminal and hangar, fuel station, water system, electrical substation and other facilities needed to go online. Still, the Spaceport Authority promises enormous economic and cultural benefits to Las Cruces and the region. Easily 1200 new jobs related directly to the spaceport will be created, ranging from research and operations, to management and public relations. Tourism and public education will also create new jobs in hotel, restaurant, and retail industries. “Not all the jobs will require PhD’s,” Wayne Savage assures us. “Our objective is economic and community development in collaboration with the private and public sectors.”
This means using Spaceport America to its fullest commercial potential. While most people think of opportunities for passenger “thrill rides,” the spaceport will also offer point-to-point travel for businesspersons, and a means of scientific and medical experimentation in space. Even greater objectives are proposed including manned flight to the space station and even to the moon as the United States prepares for lunar colonization. Given New Mexico’s history in the development of space transportation through the twentieth century, these latter objectives may seem bold. They are, however, within our grasp and in state’s forward-reaching character.
“We’ve Got Space!” stands as the Spaceport Authority’s motto for many reasons besides our state’s history of flight. Our restricted air space, a sparse population, and an ideal climate offer over 340 potential launch days per year. In fact, while the Kennedy Space Center conducts launches every two to three months, the Spaceport Authority hopes to offer weekly launches to help serve our public, private, and national interests.
While the Spaceport Authority awaits the results of an environmental impact study, many key players in the space game have already jumped on board. Virgin Galactic, “the world’s first spaceline” to offer space travel to ordinary people, promises Spaceport America as a “primary operating base.” Blue Origin, Starchaser, Starflight Technologies, and other commercial spaceflight companies have also claimed a stake in the development of the spaceport. New Mexico has again become a frontier state once again, today at the threshold of space.