ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Virgin Galactic was supposed to move operations to Spaceport America this month, but a deadly spacecraft crash in October has pushed that move back again. Now the Spaceport is facing a budget shortfall, and officials are scrambling to come up with the cash.
Spaceport officials are now hoping Virgin Galactic will move in by late 2016. The expected shortfall in that time is about $1.6 million.
Officials said they are looking at different ways to make that up, including film and commercial shoots, which they say have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Spaceport Authority is also in negotiations with several possible tenants, including World View Enterprises, a commercial balloon spaceflight company.
“We’re Spaceport America. We’re not Virgin Galactic spaceport,” Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, told News 13. “We think there’s some other business lines that are very complimentary to what we’re doing.”
Paul Gessing, president of the conservative research group the Rio Grande Foundation, has been highly-critical of the nearly quarter billion dollar Spaceport. He told News 13 that no one knows when space tourism will become viable, but that he thinks the Spaceport likely won’t be viable for a while.
“It was like building an airport before the Wright brothers had their first flight,” Gessing said. “I don’t think there’s any way to make the Spaceport successful unless we see regular, frequent space trips.”
Anderson said they’re working on a new business plan they hope to release in the coming weeks, and that the authority is asking for emergency funding from lawmakers in case they do not land new tenants.