Elaborate Spaceport visitor’s building on hold

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Commercial space flight is a new industry and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority has had to make a lot of adjustments along the way.

The latest adjustment means plans for an elaborate, stand-alone visitor’s center will be put on hold.

The standalone Visitors Center was supposed to greet guests as they arrived at Spaceport America – an elaborate building full of hands-on exhibits, games and artifacts.

It was envisioned as a way to immerse visitors into the Spaceport experience, whether they were taking a $250,000 space flight or not.

“Besides all the space customers, space launch customers we have in terms of revenue,” said Christine Anderson, New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director. “Getting another source of revenue stream is really important so the visitors are extremely important.”

But getting to that revenue stream from a separate visitor’s center takes capital the Spaceport just doesn’t have.

Last fall, the NMSA explored getting private financing for the building, but Anderson said the terms weren’t favorable.

When the NMSA asked the legislature for about $1 million for a temporary hangar to house the visitor experience they received about $115,000.

Now, they have a new plan.

“It’s going to be the same show, it’s just not as elaborate a building on site as it would have been,” Anderson said.

They’ll divide all the exhibits and activities between a planned Visitor’s Center in T or C and a sectioned off a portion of the already-built Gateway to Space building.

“If we earn enough money, then we can build a fancier building,” Anderson said.

For now, the on-site visitor’s center will be a 4,000 square foot public gallery – which could open as early as September.

If funding for the Visitor’s Center in T or C stays on track – that could be open by Summer 2015.

Virgin Galactic says test flights could begin in the next few months, with full commercial operations beginning by the end of the year.

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