New Mexico govt seeks launch capital for $225m spaceport

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New Mexico state officials are lobbying the US federal government for funds after the state’s legislature gave the green light on 16 February for a $225 million spaceport (an artist's impression of which is below).

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Of the $225 million, $125 million will be from New Mexico state bonds, $90 million from local taxes and federal funds and $10 million from previously appropriated funds.

The spaceport could be operational by 2009, but three criteria must be met before bonds money is released: the state must secure a US Federal Aviation Administration spaceport licence; an anchor tenant (potentially Virgin Galactic); and construction cost bids must not exceed $225 million.

“I think it will all take to the end of the year [to organise],” says New Mexico economic development secretary, Rick Homans. He declined to comment on whether the spaceport would be used by Space Adventures, which announced its space tourism venture last week. For it the United Arab Emirates government is to build a $265 million spaceport at Ras Al Khaimah. Singapore may be another spaceport location.

The new venture will use Russian aerospace company Myasishchev Design Bureau’s proposed five-passenger suborbital vehicle, Explorer. Its development will be overseen by Russia’s Federal Space Agency and supported by investment company Prodea.

ROB COPPINGER / LONDON

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Read Rob Coppinger's view on the new race between Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures to provide suborbital tourism for the world's rich.