A ‘Center for Innovation’? Seriously?


When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

It’s about as wise an aphorism as you’re likely to hear, but when it comes to “Spaceport America,” it never seems to apply.

Last week the Las Cruces Sun-News reported that “construction of a southern road from the Upham exit off of Interstate 25 to Spaceport America could begin in April.” A memorandum of understanding must first be signed between the BLM and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s board of directors before work can begin. A construction contract could be signed as soon as February. Approval has already been granted for $14 million worth of severance-tax bonds to pay for the 24-mile route.

According to Davin Lopez, a Spaceport Authority board member and president and chief executive officer of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, the southern road is essential for the spaceport, because it “is not only a center for innovation, it’s a destination too. We need access, and easy access.”

If Lopez has any evidence that the hundreds of millions of dollars New Mexico’s taxpayers have “invested” in the spaceport have produced any innovation, the Foundation would love to see it. Other than a smattering of launches by UP Aerospace’s sounding rockets, next to nothing has happened at the facility. No payloads have been sent into orbit. Not a single tourist has made a suborbital jaunt. SpaceX, Elon Musk’s game-changing launch company, is active in Texas and Florida. Ditto for Blue Origin, run by Internet billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Rather than double down on the boondoggle-in-the-desert, the state should embrace the proposal floated by Sen. George Munoz (D-Gallup) in 2015: Require the spaceport authority and the general services department, “in consultation with the New Mexico finance authority … [to] develop and put into place … a marketing plan that will advertise and promote the sale of Spaceport America to potential national and international buyers.”