A ‘Center for Innovation’? Seriously?

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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.”

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4 Replies to “A ‘Center for Innovation’? Seriously?”

  1. “…..it’s a destination too.”

    Yep, for lizards, snakes, small rodents, and the occasional stinkbug I’m sure.

  2. Ditch the Spaceport idea as a place to send the ultra rich, who will fly into New Mexico in their private jets, into space. Instead focus on attracting normal people to Spaceport America, the Amusement Park! Our state could turn this lemon into lemonade–and most of us enjoy lemonade.

    Use a space theme and partner with an experienced amusement park operator such as Six Flags, Cedar Fair (Knott’s Berry Farm), or Universal Studios and bring regular people, both from New Mexico and from other states, and make this white elephant into a gem. Partner with NASA and/or companies such as Lockheed Martin for some educationally themed displays similar to the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Get Harrison Schmidt on board with the idea.

    Amusement parks employ skilled workers year round (maintenance crews, promotional teams, etc.), they provide construction jobs as long as they can expand the park, and they employ lots of people when the park is operating. The Southwest lacks large amusement park which males Spaceport America Amusement Park even more appealing. It could become a Southwest destination for both Halloween (Fright Night weekends) and for Christmas (Kriskindlemart of the Southwest–Santa on his rocket ship). Eventually an amusement park should result in bringing hotels, motels, restaurants, and other services to a part of our state which is sorely lacking in these areas.

  3. Oh yeah, let’s build a 24 mile road into the place, so all the streams of traffic and people can get there easier. Let’s see, we NM taxpayers have already put up the hundreds of millions of dollars to build the place, but they have the audacity to charge us more to even get to see it. But, hey, when you’re an elitist like Elon Musk and Richard Branson, you expect the taxpayers to support your agendas – no questions asked. Even Bernie Madoff can’t hold a candle to Musk and Branson when it comes to selling our politicians and the public a piece of goods. Of course, we have to consider that it was an easy sell to our illustrious Governor Richardson who also gave us the Railrunner to pay for, and pay for, and pay for……….

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