A long-anticipated project designed for the more than 200,000 people expected to visit Spaceport America annually may soon see construction if state funding can be secured.
Officials with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority are hoping to receive up to $25 million from the New Mexico State Legislature to build a welcome center on its 18,000-acre site adjacent to the White Sands Missile Range.
The Spaceport is additionally asking lawmakers for $20 million to build several space vehicle and payload processing centers, as well as $10 million for the first phase construction of a new taxiway.
An additional request: $2 million to build a modern internet control center. That facility will be used as an anchor for all communications at the sprawling site.
To great fanfare, initial construction of the Spaceport began in the spring of 2006 when it was announced that the massive facility would see the building of Virgin Galactic’s commercial spacecraft designed to provide suborbital spaceflights for space tourists.
In the years since, more than $218 million has been spent building up and developing the Spaceport America site. It is expected that Virgin Galactic may be able to send its first paying customers into space as early as this summer.
By Garry Boulard
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