NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Spaceport America is asking for more money this year as their main tenant plans on ramping up flights over the next year. With record-setting revenues for the state, Spaceport America is hoping to get its piece of the pie to avoid a budget shortfall. Thursday, Spaceport’s executive director pitched their request to the senate finance committee and some members didn’t seem thrilled.
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“We’ll see how the funding goes. We have to change the model of the Spaceport. It’s just time,” said Spaceport’s Executive Director, Scott McLaughlin. Spaceport says its budget is about $11 million, 60% of that is funded by customers. Right now they get about $2 million from the state, but they are asking for an additional $2 million. However, the legislative finance committee is recommending $300,000 less. A big source of revenue comes from their top tenant, Virgin Galactic.
Over the last year, they’ve had two flights to the edge of space. This year, they are shooting for five with commercial flights beginning at the end of the year. That’s expected to ramp up even more in 2023 with a new spaceship. “They’re planning on being back with the VSS imagine, which is the second space ship. they’re working on the White Knight 2 in the Mojave. They’re doing some upgrades and will be back some time in July and you can see in the bottom here, there’s a whole series of testing and we will go to space sometime late in 2022 and begin full operations with two space crafts and one carrier in,” McLaughlin said.
The New Mexico Economic Development Department says they have a proposal to bring Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing to the Spaceport. Right now, the manufacturing location is in the Mojave desert. Spaceport America has five permanent tenants that are conducting a variety of experiments; including one company that uses laser technology to help land on the moon. Lawmakers say a bill that would tax Virgin Galactic tickets could help the Spaceport become self-sustaining.