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Space Government Politics

One Step Closer To Spaceport America 149

Posted by Zonk
from the is-it-safe dept.
space_hippy writes "The next step for a project we've previously discussed has now come around: thanks to a sales tax increase it seems as though the residents of Dona Ana county in New Mexico will be playing host to the first American commercial spaceport. From the BBC article: 'Residents in the US state of New Mexico have approved a new tax to build the nation's first commercial spaceport. Dona Ana County is a relatively poor and bleak swath of desert in southern New Mexico with fewer than 200,000 residents. But voters passed a 0.25% increase in the local sales tax to help contribute to the cost of building Spaceport America. Sir Richard Branson has signed a long-term lease with the state of New Mexico to make the new spaceport the headquarters of his Virgin Galactic space tourism business. The spaceport is expected to open in 2009, and Virgin Galactic says space flights will cost around $200,000 for a 2.5-hour flight.'"
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One Step Closer To Spaceport America

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  • 200k for a flight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:11PM (#18641261) Homepage
    I assume this is a sub-orbital flight past the boundary of space like Spaceship 1 took, but doing that would still qualify for my life-goal of "see earth from space". I want to do this before I die. Even if I'm 90 and the flight will probably kill me, I'd sign whatever waivers I needed to and take my chances.

    I wonder how 200k compares to the cost of airline flights at the birth of commercial aviation after adjusting for inflation? I'm guessing it's still quite a bit more, but maybe not too far? Either way, the point is that it's only a 1-2 orders of magnitude from where many people would be able to do it, including myself. And that makes me very excited.
    • by Rei (128717) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:52PM (#18641641) Homepage
      see earth from space

      Ride a MiG. [incredible...ntures.com]

      Sure, it's not 100km, but it's high enough to get the curvature of the planet and what might as well be a vaccuum outside. And costs a tenth as much. And keeps you up there for almost an hour.

      Besides, if it's not orbital, is it really all that different? SS1 is so far from an orbital spacecraft it's not even funny. Now the Falcon, that's a good private rocket :)

      • by Chris Burke (6130)
        Besides, if it's not orbital, is it really all that different? SS1 is so far from an orbital spacecraft it's not even funny. Now the Falcon, that's a good private rocket :)

        Yeah, I'd say 20km vs 100km is a big difference. But I'll consider the MiG as a backup plan if Virgin Galactic doesn't pan out. :)

        And believe me, I'm hoping for orbital. You don't have to tell me SS1 is not even close to orbital. I don't think it's ridiculous to think I may see it by the time I'm 90, though it's of course tremendously
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oldwindways (934421)

      I wonder how 200k compares to the cost of airline flights at the birth of commercial aviation after adjusting for inflation? I'm guessing it's still quite a bit more, but maybe not too far? Either way, the point is that it's only a 1-2 orders of magnitude from where many people would be able to do it, including myself. And that makes me very excited.

      Very interesting question. As a bit of a benchmark, a flight in a Russian MIG fighter jet (http://www.atlasaerospace.net/eng/pilot.htm/ [atlasaerospace.net]) currently ranges from roughly $8K to $17K for a 45 minute ride. The projected space flight would be approximately 3.33 times the duration, so a MIG flight lasting the same would be roughly $50K (for one of the higher end aircraft such as the MIG-25 or MIG-31) or 25% of cost of the space flight. Considering the difference in velocity, distance traveled (MIGs have an ope [wikipedia.org]

      • by Tackhead (54550)
        > As a bit of a benchmark, a flight in a Russian MIG fighter jet (http://www.atlasaerospace.net/eng/pilot.htm/) currently ranges from roughly $8K to $17K for a 45 minute ride.

        And scaling it down the other way, if it's just a few minutes of zero-G you're after, a little googling revealed that anyone can get a ride on NASA Ames' Vomit Comet in honor of Yuri's Night 2007 [worldspaceparty.com] for a paltry $5000 [inticketing.com], and you get to fly just 10 days from next Thursday.

        $5K for a vomit comet ride into zero-G.
        $50K for a MiG-

      • by Rei (128717)
        3.3 times the duration -- what? Where are you getting that from? Virgin Galactic's flight is only to last for a few minutes.
    • by Teancum (67324)
      I just found an interesting page here [boeing.com] that goes into some interesting price/cost analysis figures for passenger costs when using air travel.

      Of note is a remark talking about the original Pan-Am Pacific Clipper service that on average cost about $4/mile (inflation adjusted to 2004 dollars). Assuming that you went from San Francisco to Tokyo, that would have cost the equivalent of about $10,000-$20,000.

      By comparing that to what Virgin Galactic is asking here, it doesn't seem so far fetched.

      In addition, there
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:13PM (#18641299) Homepage Journal
    I consider myself a space enthusiast, but I find it amazing that in a time when initiatives to raise taxes to better fund schools routinely fail, that this one passes. I can only surmise that the economic situation in the area is truly desperate. Sadly, I suspect that Virgin Galactic is getting the better end of the deal. Any increase in jobs is likely to be temporary and primarily associated with construction of the facility. And increased tourism is just a huge guess. I wish them luck, but this is a huge gamble.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745)
      It's a small tax increase. The risk to reward ratio is pretty good on this one.
      Sure , it might fail, but if it pays off, it will pay off in a very big way.

      This is the real question:
      Is this the equivilant of the first international Airport, or the first international dirigable-port?

      • The risk to reward ratio is pretty good on this one.

        If the ratio is so great, how come Branson isn't willing to fund it himself? If it was a good investment, I would be investing with MY cash!
        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:28PM (#18641929) Homepage
          If the ratio is so great, how come Branson isn't willing to fund it himself? If it was a good investment, I would be investing with MY cash!

          He is investing his cash! Way more than NM is spending. The point is that all else being equal he wouldn't be funding it to be built in New Mexico.

          It's not like the proposed Branson build a space port and he said "Hey, neat idea, would you pay me to do it?" Branson wanted to build a space port already, and while shopping around for locations NM said "Hey, we'd chip in if you built it here".
      • This is the real question:
        Is this the equivilant of the first international Airport, or the first international dirigable-port?

        Neither. It's the equivalent of the first amusement park - as the purpose of this 'spaceport' is entertainment, not the transshipment of goods, or travel.
    • Funding isn't the problem with schools. The stereotypical "bad schools" in inner cities have very, very high funding compared to high-quality private (sometimes religious) schools. The best school in my state is Catholic; most of their tuition (which does not compare to taxpayer spending on public school to begin with) is siphoned off by the State Church offices, and very little goes to fund the school itself.
    • by 7Prime (871679)
      Well, if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense (the tax hike being good for the community). The only clients Virgin Galactic will have are big-time, multi-millionare business people. These people, in turn, are going to want to stay in 5-star hotels the night before their flight, eat at 5-star restaurants for the day they spend there, maybe buy a few hundred dollars worth in suvineers while they're at it. This doesn't even begin to figure in the workers and management of these lavish facilities, all of
      • I don't think the comparison between this tax proposal and one for local schools is valid.

        First of all, this is going from zero to something instead of huge to even larger. There is no existing spaceport authority to show they have mis-managed tax dollars in the past, something which many school districts can be accused of doing.

        If you think about it, a teacher can only be supported by a finite number of families. Yes, taxing wealthy people does have an impact, but if you tax the wealthy too much, they simply move out. If the average class size is 30 students, and families have on average 3 kids, that means you can only have 10 families support one teacher. The salary of that teacher is directly tied to the salaries/wages/income of those 10 families and raising or lowering taxes only redistributes that basic support base.

        If you think of preschools/daycare centers, this number is reduced even more, so it is a clear demonstration that day care centers will never make significant money except when catering to the very wealthy.

        The same could be said about policemen, firefighters, and other typical municipal workers and to explain why they make the money that they do.

        Why this is so completely different is that we aren't talking about what one small community must support, but what kind of financial support and revenue could result that would be of a regional or even a continental level of income. The number of communities that are competing on this level right now is precisely two (New Mexico and Virginia) with two other potential suitors (Florida and Texas). At the very least, New Mexico will be a regional center for the entire western USA for this kind of activity.

        Raising the tax rate for funding local schools (which may or may not have merit) isn't going to give a local region a significant advantage over any other region of the country. At best it will help fix some long term problem that may need a solution that doesn't require money as well.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:36PM (#18641533)

    Dona Ana County is a relatively poor and bleak swathe of desert in southern New Mexico with fewer than 200,000 residents. But voters passed a 0.25% increase in the local sales tax to help contribute to the cost of building Spaceport America. Sir Richard Branson has signed a long-term lease with the state of New Mexico to make the new spaceport the headquarters of his Virgin Galactic space tourism business.

    Ah, cue the great lie that tax incentives to draw corporations "create" jobs [amazon.com].

    Let's think about how absurd this is: a man worth about $7.8BN [wikipedia.org] (which represents about 11% of New Mexico's GDP [nam.org]) just got one quarter of his spaceport paid for by people who make on average $29-33k [wikipedia.org], so that people with multi-million-dollar net worths can blast themselves into space?

    Let me put the numbers in proportion for you: if Branson took one third of his net worth (percentage-wise, not too out of line with what the residents of the county just did for his little corporate venture) and divided it amongst ALL the people of the county, he would effectively raise the median income by 50%.

    I'm sure in such a poor county that the level of education can't be that great, but seriously- how could people so poor be so stupid as to think this was something in their favor? As The Great American Job Scam points out, corporations are routinely handed millions upon millions of dollars by state governments, with the promise of creating X number of jobs which will NEVER come even remotely close to putting that much money in wages?

    How many jobs will this spaceport actually bring in that residents in the county within commuting distance will be qualified for? And don't they realize that the spaceport will bring in a lot of much higher paid people (engineers, technical staff, etc), who will drive property values through the roof as they snap up land for McMansions? Cue the trickle down economics comments.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:58PM (#18641681) Homepage
      Let's think about how absurd this is: a man worth about $7.8BN (which represents about 11% of New Mexico's GDP) just got one quarter of his spaceport paid for by people who make on average $29-33k, so that people with multi-million-dollar net worths can blast themselves into space?

      No... They paid for part of the spaceport so he'd build it where they live and so that those multi-millionaires would come to spend their money where they live. He was going to build it anyway, and he was almost certainly not going to build it in New Mexico without any incentive to do so.

      Let me put the numbers in proportion for you: if Branson took one third of his net worth (percentage-wise, not too out of line with what the residents of the county just did for his little corporate venture) and divided it amongst ALL the people of the county, he would effectively raise the median income by 50%.

      You're right, it was pretty stupid of the residents not to vote for Branson to give them a 3rd of his net worth.

      Or hey, they should have voted to end the Iraq War and have all the defense spending sent to them. Then they'd all be rich and their problems would be over!

      How many jobs will this spaceport actually bring in that residents in the county within commuting distance will be qualified for? And don't they realize that the spaceport will bring in a lot of much higher paid people (engineers, technical staff, etc), who will drive property values through the roof as they snap up land for McMansions? Cue the trickle down economics comments.

      Yeah, I know, trickle down sucks, but it's what they're dealing with. I'm sure they'd feel so much smarter watching the space port be built somewhere else and having the money of these tourists come in somewhere else while their own economy continues to go down the shitter.

      But you know New Mexico is large and sparsely populated. I wouldn't be too concerned about the property values driving out locals. Those engineers will need houses, they'll need food, the rich tourists will need lodging, that's all jobs and money coming into the community.

      Is this the best thing for them? Well we'll have to see. It really depends on what happens to Virgin Galactic. If it succeeds, then this little place in New Mexico that you've never heard of before could become a significant tourist destination.
      • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:16PM (#18642269)

        No... They paid for part of the spaceport so he'd build it where they live and so that those multi-millionaires would come to spend their money where they live

        That statement assumes that multi-millionaires will spend any remotely-significant amount of their money in town. What is more likely is that they will fly into the spaceport via private jet, stay in luxury accomodations at the spaceport, get blasted into space, land, and fly home via their private jet.

        It is extremely likely that Virgin will structure things such that payment for all of this will take place in such a manner that New Mexico and (ironically) the county, will not see a dime in sales tax.

        He was going to build it anyway, and he was almost certainly not going to build it in New Mexico without any incentive to do so.

        You and I both have little idea if that statement is true, but it's irrelevant nonetheless: my point is that the people of the county in question will most likely be better off if Branson hadn't built the spaceport (in their county), or hadn't received a dime from them.

        You're right, it was pretty stupid of the residents not to vote for Branson to give them a 3rd of his net worth. Or hey, they should have voted to end the Iraq War and have all the defense spending sent to them. Then they'd all be rich and their problems would be over!

        That's an invalid straw man argument.

        Yeah, I know, trickle down sucks, but it's what they're dealing with. I'm sure they'd feel so much smarter watching the space port be built somewhere else and having the money of these tourists come in somewhere else while their own economy continues to go down the shitter.

        "Trickle down" doesn't exist. It's bullshit made up by an actor who played President to justify to poor people why he was handing rich people and corporations tax cuts.

        Irregardless, you're also again relying on the completely speculative argument that "if a spaceport is built, it will benefit the county." That seems very dubious, given the scale just tipped $50,000,000 out of their favor, and all Branson has committed to doing is leasing some facilities and land.

        But you know New Mexico is large and sparsely populated. I wouldn't be too concerned about the property values driving out locals. Those engineers will need houses, they'll need food, the rich tourists will need lodging, that's all jobs and money coming into the community.

        The engineers will built very expensive homes in the nicest places (which is where people are usually already living), close to the spaceport. When Joe Engineer offers a big lump of cash to a hesitant (or greedy) potential seller and the deal closes, guess what happens to the property values for land around where Joe Engineer now lives? It goes up. And guess what happens to property taxes? They go up. My parents have a close friend who is 80 and has lived in my hometown for half her life, working much of it tirelessly as a volunteer- and she can't afford the property taxes on the modest home and small parcel of land she owns, because the valuation by the town has tripled based on sale prices of homes around her and in the rest of the town.

        Back to NM...some landlords will cash out, kicking out tenants, who will now be looking for places to live- further bumping up demand for remaining property or rentals. The engineers will not want to live next to run-down houses or trailer homes owned by the locals, and they'll start pushing their towns to "do something" about it; suddenly Joe Trailerpark finds himself slapped with a $100 fine for having his Camaro on cinderblocks and $50 for not mowing his lawn. The restaurants and grocery stores will realize their customers can pay more for a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs, or a gallon of gas for that luxury SUV- and because their workers have been priced out of living in/near town, they have to look harder for people to staff the registers, or pay more. Etc.

        • by c6gunner (950153)
          So to sum up your argument:

          1) Large construction projects are bad for the local economy.
          2) New jobs are a bad thing if they happen to be the result of a subsidized project.
          3) Progress is bad.

          That about right?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SEE (7681)
          Maybe you should come to Doña Anna County, and look at the actual conditions here.

          Joe Engineer, taking one look at the property where someone already lives, will realize that it's hot, dry, sandy-rocky land just like the stuff ten miles closer to the spaceport, that the land closer to the spaceport is cheaper to buy because it's undeveloped, and that it'll be cheaper to develop because he won't have to tear down existing buildings. He won't gentrify because, given the real estate in Doña Anna Cou
        • "Trickle down" doesn't exist. It's bullshit made up by an actor who played President to justify to poor people why he was handing rich people and corporations tax cuts.

          I might believe you if you had some argument against it other than a mere ad hominem - and a weak one, at that. "Trickle-down economics" is merely one way of viewing laissez-faire economics. And, uh, laissez-faire exists. (It's up to debate how well it works, but it does have some positive effects, and it certainly "exist"s.)

          Also, while we're
      • by misleb (129952)

        No... They paid for part of the spaceport so he'd build it where they live and so that those multi-millionaires would come to spend their money where they live. He was going to build it anyway, and he was almost certainly not going to build it in New Mexico without any incentive to do so.

        How many "tourists" could we possibly be talking about? How many people are going to be spending $200k for some lame, not-even-really-space flight? And what are they going to spend their money on? A hotel room? "Massage"

    • by merreborn (853723) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:04PM (#18641739) Journal

      And don't they realize that the spaceport will bring in a lot of much higher paid people (engineers, technical staff, etc), who will drive property values through the roof as they snap up land for McMansions?


      1) Own a home in the area when property values skyrocket.
      2) Sell home at drastically inflated price.
      3) Profit.

      The only people who stand to lose from that arrangement are those who don't already own their homes. But that's what you get for throwing hundreds/thousands of dollars a month into the black pit known as "rent".
      • by Al Dimond (792444) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:48PM (#18642487) Journal
        There are a lot of people throwing money into that black pit, many for good reasons. Just because they don't own houses now doesn't mean we shouldn't consider how they're impacted. There probably will be some positive effects for everyone, but increased cost of living is a concern for lots of people.

        Two more things:

        1. If you sell your house for profit you still have to live somewhere. You either buy another home at drastically inflated price (and in the process you'd lose money buying a house of equal value, because of all the money that flows out to lawyers, real-estate agents and the like), you throw money down the rent hole (more lossage) or you move somewhere else.

        2. You have to pay more in property taxes if you just sit on your more valuable land. In California they passed a law a while back limiting annual value assessment changes, and it's a popular law that's helped people stay in their homes, but since property value does get reassessed (which almost always means a drastic increase in its taxed value) when you buy, sell or improve property it discourages these activities. And people become experts in finding shady ways to dodge reassessment. I think it raises the barrier for new property owners even higher, since new owners have to shoulder more tax burden. Which keeps more people throwing money down the rent hole. Which isn't to say that there aren't better ways it could be handled... just that the increasing value of your home/land might not actually make you rich.
        • by misleb (129952)
          Don't worry, nobody wants to live in the current homes anyway so it won't be an issue. I"m sure that if anyone moves in with any money they'll be building NEW homes on cheap desert land.

      • by misleb (129952)
        Do you have any idea what areas like that in New Mexico look like? We're not talking about the Chicago suburbs. They're in a friekin desert. And they're poor. The people living there now don't own homes that anyone with any money would want... especially at inflated prices. Any new person moving in with a high paid Spaceport job would probably just pick up some random plot of desert for $1 an acre or something. But hey, they'll need people to do their landscaping. It is more like:

        1) Own a trailer in the are
    • In my opinion, let Richard Branson pay for his own frickin space port! While there are valid arguments that seaports and airports should be government funded as part of an industrial infrastructure, those arguments don't apply to spaceports, because there aren't any frickin spaceships to use them! This kind of corporate welfare needs to stop, especially for the likes of billionaire Branson.

      Yes, I know the voters approved this. So what? If they think it's that important, they can donate out of their own pock
    • by Rakishi (759894) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:22PM (#18641875)
      Let me put the numbers in proportion for you: if Branson took one third of his net worth (percentage-wise, not too out of line with what the residents of the county just did for his little corporate venture) and divided it amongst ALL the people of the county, he would effectively raise the median income by 50%. ...your point being? His wealth isn't sitting as giant gold bricks in his house you know, right? Most of it is invested in companies and thus using it would hurt those companies. Other parts of it may be tied to banks and removing that would impede the banks ability to give out loans.
    • by IO ERROR (128968)

      You completely forgot to mention the absurdity of taxing the poor to build a spaceport for the rich.

      Then again it seems that the Democrats are supporting taxing the poor to provide these billionaires some welfare.

    • by SEE (7681)
      And don't they realize that the spaceport will bring in a lot of much higher paid people (engineers, technical staff, etc), who will drive property values through the roof as they snap up land for McMansions?

      There's too much land for that to happen. Seriously. The county's bigger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and it has a total population of less than 200,000. You could build a thousand huge houses on ten-acre lots apiece, and there'd be absolutely minimal effect on general real
    • by sunking2 (521698)
      I'm sure in such a poor county that the level of education can't be that great, but seriously- how could people so poor be so stupid as to think this was something in their favor?
      While I'm not a huge fan of NM, I did spend 4 years in dona ana county going to school at new mexico state university. The above sentence is only partly accurate. As a whole, NM has perhaps the highest percentage of PHDs in the country thanks to Los Alamos, Sandia, White Sands, VLA and countless other research areas. Remember this
  • by Del Mar (163443) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:04PM (#18641741)
    Where to start...

    From the article you'd think they were refering to the third world. Dona Ana county contains Las Cruces which has New Mexico State University. A very large state school and a pretty good engineering school. I went there. Second White Sands Missle Range is just over the Oragon Mountains (We used to have tailgate parties and watch the pretty lights).

    And did I mention Sandia Labs and Los Alamos in the northern part of the state? Microsoft had its first offices in Albuquerque. Anyone remember the Altair 8800? The place is TECH HEAVY. I mean I remember tourning a reactor at one of the labs on a field trip as a freshman in high school. A lot my classmates parents were engineers or physicists.

    And don't get me started about "bleak swath of dessert." To know the dessert is to love it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      And don't get me started about "bleak swath of dessert." To know the dessert is to love it.

      I love dessert! Mmmmm ice cream, cake, doughnuts, creme broulet, chocolate pudding with smashed up oreos in it.

      MMMMMMMMMM yummy
    • by bogjobber (880402)
      Not to mention it's right next to El Paso, Texas which according to Wikipedia is the 21st largest city in the US.
    • To know the dessert is to love it.

      ...New Mexico State University. A very large state school and a pretty good engineering school. I went there.
      I don't believe you. Anyone who's lived in the desert knows how to spell it.
  • Theme Park (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jordipg (910826)
    As optimistic as I may be about the prospect of manned space flight, the entire proposition seems a little contrived to me.

    The Wright Brothers didn't need an airport to build the first working plane. I'm guessing that what we think of as "airports" and "seaports" today didn't exist for some time after the advent of commercial air and sea travel. Rather, they were probably born of some need to consolidate services and facilities. Right now, there is no need for either with regards to commercial space tr
    • Odds are, you're right about the frequency, especially initially. Keep in mind, though, that these "rocket guys" won't just drive in, do their thing, and leave. You'll have full-time employees, stuff to be stored, things manufactured on site, and all the infrastructure to make it happen. Have you looked at the Kennedy space center's org chart [nasa.gov]? That's a lot of people and there hasn't been a launch for quite awhile.
  • by SickLittleMonkey (135315) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:05PM (#18641755)
    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

    (Did they choose this place because it has a two word name!?)
    SLM
  • by caywen (942955)
    "Supporters of the new tax say the spaceport will bring thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in space tourism revenue to the area.

    But critics of the tax plan say the money could be better spent on existing county problems. "

    Who are these critics, and do they RTFA? Do they mean existing problems like high unemployment and lack of revenue?
  • Everybody here is arguing about whether or not this is feasible, and how the parent company has so much money they should just be funding this themselves. Obviously there's more to the story than what we're seeing here, it would be interesting to find out what the investment prospectus was -- how were the residents of new mexico convinced to vote [douginadress.com], by majority for this tax increase.

    Since when do americans vote for a tax increase [prettybored.com]? That's the real story.
    • by Fuzzums (250400)
      Why pay when others will pay for you....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Teancum (67324)
      In this particular case the appeal was to personal self-interest. At least the philosophy was that by approving this sort of modest tax increase (it is only 0.25%... although I will admit those are the worst kind because of this very arguement) they will get some very tangible benefits in the long run.

      As has been pointed out in the article, this is a largely undeveloped part of the USA where the dot-com bubble/bust/recovery never even happened at all. By all accounts it is a pretty sleepy part of America
  • by clintp (5169) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:05PM (#18642183)
    My parents live in the county, I went to university there, and travel there occasionally.

    Doña Ana county is home to a boom town -- Las Cruces. And unlike places like California and Las Vegas the boom hasn't died out. Hospitals, shopping, roads, banks, and all kinds of other infrastructure are popping up all over.

    Las Cruces (the county seat) is about 45 minutes from El Paso, TX. There's a fairly large university there (NMSU) and no shortage of people looking for work.

    Best of all -- for a spaceport -- there's land near this infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land, sparsely populated.

    It's a great place to build a spaceport.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BCW2 (168187)
      It's also dirt poor. I spent 35 of my first 40 years there. If you didn't teach at NMSU(my Dad was in the College of Ag.), work for a contractor at White Sands Missle Range, own one of the large farms, or your own business, it was a struggle. The prevailing attitude into the 80's was: you don't want to work for min. wage? There are 16,000 college kids who will and if they won't there are 25,000 wets(illegal aliens) that will work for less! The per capita income in NM is in the bottom 5 in the country. Most
    • by Sinical (14215)

      Best of all -- for a spaceport -- there's land near this infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land, sparsely populated.
      Near a missile range. Where they test PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability), a missile interceptor. It's a mean thought, but comon', *so* delicious. No one's ever shot down a space craft before, right? And there aren't many opportunities for "firsts" anymore.

      Just saying.

      Sentence fragment.
  • I was there... (Score:3, Informative)

    by J05H (5625) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:21PM (#18642305) Homepage
    and I saw it. At the X Prize Cup. Dona Ana county is really pretty, and there's a lot of support for building Spaceport America there. It's great that they are figuring it out, D. Kent Evans (the county commish) and everyone else deserve a huge pat on the back for this. The area is mostly agricultural, the spaceport (and X Prize, rocket races, etc) promise to bring both tech and service jobs to the area. Suborbital flights are only the beginning, if rocket racing or orbital shots become feasible they can be hosted there as well.

    You can read my review of the X Prize Cup event, from a vendor/small biz perspective here:
    http://www.postcardstospace.com/xprizecup.html [postcardstospace.com]

    Anyway, we return you to your regularly scheduled flamewar...

    Josh
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For those of you who don't know Southern New Mexico is the birth place of space flight and military expertise in the United States. After World War II many Germen scientist moved here and White Sands Missile Range was born; the biggest land based testing range for missile and rocket technology in the US. New Mexico State University is an engineering power house and lots of engineering students will probably have plenty of opportunities to learn and work with Virgin Galactic while they are attending school
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:40AM (#18643435) Homepage

    This won't be the first US commercial spaceport. Mojave Spaceport [wikipedia.org] has been active for several years now. SpaceShip One launched from there.

    Rotary Rocket was supposed to launch their SSTO vehicle from Mojave, and built a vertical assembly building and a prototype at Mojave. But they had a weight growth problem and never got beyond low-altitude testing.

    • The problem with Mojave is that they are not equipped (nor have the proper airspace) for surface-launched rockets. Keep in mind that Spaceship One was an air launch that started as a conventional airplane take-off. Their license is strictly for air-launched spacecraft that originates at Mojave. I might be mistaken on this point, and if I am please enlighten me.

      New Mexico will be different because they are going to be a ground-launch rocket spaceport. In this regard, they are similar to the effort at Vir

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