That’s the word from Rick Homans, head of economic development for the state of New Mexico. I phoned into a press conference he gave this afternoon in which he reported that the New Mexico legislature this morning voted to approve spending $100 million in state funds to build the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.
“It’s all systems go for the spaceport,” Homans told reporters. “We’re all very tired and we’re all very relieved…. For this whole project to make it through in such good shape…really says a lot about the support from the legislature. There all kinds of things that could have gone wrong that didn’t go wrong, so we’re thankful for that. Myself and my staff here, we’re all passionate about this project. We believe in it, we believe it’s good for the state of New Mexico, and we work on it heart and soul. We knew we had a lot at stake during this legislative session; it was a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on building a spaceport and launching this new industry in this state. We’re happy we got a thumbs up and that we can move forward and fulfill this dream for the state of New Mexico.”
Next step is to issue an RFP, some time in March, for the architecture and engineering of the spaceport, said Homans, with a view toward completing design of the spaceport by the end of this year, and bids going out to construction firms to start building by first quarter of next year.
That’s contingent on getting an FAA license for the spaceport. To that end, Homans and several other state officials are heading to Washington early next week for talks with FAA officials. They’ll also be soliciting additional funding from the federal government.
“We’ve always viewed this as a project of national significance because it really supports the new U.S. space program and space policy,” said Homans.
Homans also reported that the spaceport’s inaugural launch, by UP Aerospace, originally scheduled for March 27, has been pushed back to mid-May.