No stranger to offbeat space-related news, businesspeople in New Mexico have plans to make the country’s first “spaceport,” an airport for privately owned spacecraft, NPR reported. Under the authority of the newly created New Mexico Spaceport Authority and Spaceport America, plans for the new space are set for a site outside Truth or Consequences, a tiny desert town.
The U.S.’s manned shuttle missions have been put to an end, and the hope is that the private sector will pick up, and a new tourism industry will be born. Virgin Galactic, the first space tourism company, has already been created, and Boeing also reportedly plans to get in on the action.
The project has already cost the state of New Mexico $200 million. Newser reported that certain local officials have buyer’s remorse for agreeing to the project. Job creation had been promised, but never delivered.
David Wilson, spokesman with the Spaceport Authority, said that New Mexico is a natural choice for the first spaceport, and not only because of the Roswell connection.
“Robert Goddard brought his experiments and rockets to the New Mexican desert in the ’30s for the same reasons,” Wilson told NPR. “There’s this incredible weather window; there’s no population out here, and then you’re a mile up from sea level. We have a saying around there, ‘The first mile of space is free.’ It takes less energy to get to space from a place out here like this.”