Headlines > News > Governor Bill Richardson Announces Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic Sign Historic Lease Agreement

Governor Bill Richardson Announces Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic Sign Historic Lease Agreement

Published by Rob on Thu Jan 1, 2009 10:50 am
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SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson today announced that Virgin Galactic has signed a 20 year lease agreement with the State of New Mexico. Virgin Galactic’s world headquarters will be established in New Mexico and its operations will be located at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

“The signing of this agreement is a momentous day for our state and has cemented New Mexico as the home of commercial space travel,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “I want to thank Virgin Galactic for partnering with us to create a whole new industry that is going to transform the economy of Southern New Mexico—creating thousands of jobs, generating money for education, boosting tourism and attracting other companies and economic opportunities to the area.”

The signing of the lease agreement comes just days after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a launch license to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. The lease agreement with an anchor tenant was the final requirement set by the New Mexico Legislature to release the next level of funding for Spaceport America and it has cleared the way for construction to begin early next year.

“This is a historic moment for New Mexico, Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic. A lot of very dedicated people have been working long hours to secure this lease agreement,” said Spaceport America Executive Director Steven Landeene. “Like several other companies, Virgin Galactic has realized the outstanding advantages offered by Spaceport America and the State of New Mexico.”

The signing of the lease agreement coincides with the beginning of the test flying program for Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicle which got underway this month in Mojave, CA. The WhiteKnightTwo will serve as the mother ship for SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle that will carry commercial astronauts into sub-orbital space from Spaceport America.

“We are really looking forward to making Spaceport America and New Mexico the home and worldwide headquarters of Virgin Galactic,” said Jonathan Firth, Virgin Galactic Projects & Operations Director. “The State has all the right elements for a successful commercial space operation including weather, clear airspace, beautiful scenery, great people and a fantastic location and design for Spaceport America.”

This month the New Mexico Spaceport Authority selected Gerald Martin Construction Management of Albuquerque to oversee construction of Spaceport America. The architectural firm of URS/Foster + Partners is completing their final design for the terminal and hangar facility. Construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2009 with the terminal and hangar facility scheduled for completion in 2010. Road construction to Spaceport America is already underway.

Southern New Mexico’s Spaceport America is positioned to become the nation’s leading commercial spaceport facility. There have been several commercial launches for various clients from the site since April 2007, with more launches planned. In addition to Virgin Galactic, the Spaceport Authority has been working closely with other leading aerospace firms such as Lockheed Martin, Rocket Racing Inc./Armadillo Aerospace, UP Aerospace, Microgravity Enterprises and Payload Specialties.

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A Day of Mourning | Chaos Program
[...] There are grounds for hope for real human space exploration as private companies begin to take up the slack that NASA has dropped. Companies like Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites and SpaceX develop their own technologies for reaching and dealing with space. It took a long time for people to figure out that NASA wasn’t in the game anymore and they would need to do it themselves but that leap seems to have finally been made. Even individual states are getting in on the act, as witness the announcement in January that Virgin Galactic has leased land for a space port in New Mexico. [...]
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