Spaceport America was always a long-term bet on the future. It was never intended to turn a quick buck. Still, it’s been frustratingly slow getting off the ground.
And that has prompted Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, to call for putting the roughly $220 million spaceport on the auction block so New Mexico taxpayers don’t have to dig deeper into their pockets to keep it going in hopes it one day will be a linchpin in a new global travel industry.
The frustrations have mounted and the spaceport’s main tenant, Virgin Galactic, is recovering from a devastating setback last October when its spaceship broke apart over California during a test flight.
While Munoz, a good steward of tax dollars, is understandably frustrated, some perspective is needed. The visionary spaceport was developed during the Gov. Bill Richardson administration and had buy-in from lawmakers. New Mexico taxpayers already have invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars into the project.
Munoz’s bill would require the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and others to come up with a marketing plan by October to sell the facility. Money from the sale would be used to pay back development bonds. Taxes imposed in Sierra and Doña Ana counties to pay for the project could be rescinded.
But there are multiple problems with Munoz’ proposal.