Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Construction of Spaceport Unit Will Resume
By Rene Romo
Copyright © 2011 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Southern Bureau
LAS CRUCES — Construction of an aircraft rescue and firefighting building at Spaceport America, stalled since November, is scheduled to resume within three weeks.
The Spaceport Authority's former executive director, Rick Homans, halted work on the $2.9 million building because of concerns about how the first-floor space would be used and whether it was sufficient to meet the needs of future tenants. The project had been launched by Homans' predecessor Steve Landeene.
New Spaceport Authority executive director Christine Anderson said she lifted the stop-work order on March 11 after determining "that the original design was fine and we would move forward."
"Staff said we can make it work the way it is now," said Anderson, who was hired in late February to lead the New Mexico agency overseeing construction of the $209 million spaceport about 25 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences. "I think the original plan was fine and we should just stick with it."
The cost of the nearly four-month delay will be about $100,000, Anderson said, though a final change order with the delay's exact cost has not yet been signed. The added cost will be paid from a contingency fund built into the project.
The 14,000-square-foot building where work was stopped, now dubbed the Spaceport Operations Center, will house rescue and firefighting operations and equipment, vehicle bays, maintenance facilities, a communications room, security room and office space for Spaceport Authority staff and major contractors.
Whether all or just a portion of the Spaceport Authority's offices and staff will be moved from Las Cruces to the spaceport's remote location has not yet been determined, Anderson said.
The Spaceport Operations Center, a turtle-shell-shaped building designed to resemble the curved exterior of the main terminal-hangar facility, was about 70 percent complete when work was stopped. The spaceport terminal is expected to be completed by the end of the year and operations by anchor tenant Virgin Galactic could begin sometime in 2012.
Spaceport Authority board member Benjamin Woods said Homans halted construction "to be thoughtful and to ensure due diligence so that whatever was eventually built would work for a fairly rapidly advancing game of chess in terms of what we need to have out there to support this new technology."