New Mexico Spaceport Authority clinches land deal for launch site

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New Mexico's Spaceport Authority has secured long-term access to the 7,290Ha (18,000 acres) it needs for its proposed Spaceport America launch site. The spaceport is expected to be the world headquarters for its anchor tenant Virgin Galactic by the end of the decade.

In its agreements, the authority becomes a managing lessee for Sierra County, which is the lessee, and the authority gains a 25-year business lease for the 7,290Ha, with the state land office. Under another 25-year agreement it must consult two private ranches' families - whose land it will occupy -about the design, construction and operation of the spaceport and pay over $637,000 to each family in compensation if it is found that its operations make ranching economically unviable.

The authority will also construct a permanent, standing memorial to commemorate the two ranching families' histories and the area's agricultural heritage.

"These agreements are critical to our ability to build Spaceport America, and to build a new industry in New Mexico," says Spaceport Authority executive director Lonnie Sumpter.

In related developments, in December Ohio's department of development told US-Canadian space tourism company Planet-Space it could offer it incentives if the business based its operations in the state, and in the same month Las Cruces city council decided to vote this month on whether to make a statement in support of Spaceport America.