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Editorial: N.M. open for space biz

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It looks like even the sky is no longer the limit in a more-business-friendly New Mexico.

SpaceX, a rocket company that is already sending cargo to the International Space Station, has signed a three-year lease at New Mexico’s Spaceport America to test a reusable, vertically launched rocket that eventually could carry human passengers to and from space.

That’s a big relief for New Mexico taxpayers who already have committed to spending more than $200 million to build the nation’s premier spaceport — a visionary project launched under Gov. Bill Richardson. Other states are left retrofitting old airports in an attempt to catch up to New Mexico, whose spaceport is being built specifically for space travel.

SpaceX is the second tenant to sign a lease at Spaceport America, joining Virgin Galactic. And Virgin Galactic recently began testing its rocket for planned tourist flights to the edge of space that could begin early next year.

These activities, along with the passage of a law this year that was pushed for and signed by Gov. Susana Martinez expanding the limited liability protections New Mexico offered Virgin Galactic to all space-related companies, only shore up New Mexico’s claim to be open for space business.

Proponents of the law had argued the state was losing business to other states offering such protections. But opponents, led by trial lawyers, said it was a bluff. Guess it wasn’t. Though SpaceX will not benefit from the change immediately, it’s doubtful the company would have come here without it.

Other space firms should take note that two of America’s top space concerns are now in New Mexico.

Because it’s a good place to do business.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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