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PNS Daily Newscast - November 22, 2017 


Haitian communities vow to fight Trump moves to terminate legal status; also on the rundown; an update on the trial of an activist who shut down a pipeline; a new poll shows Americans want to talk turkey not politics, on Thanksgiving; and just ahead of Black Friday - Cyber Security an emerging toy-safety concern.

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Will 2018 Be the Year NM's Spaceport Delivers on Promises?

New Mexico's Spaceport America hopes 2018 is a turning point for the facility, but its major tenant will need to follow through on adding up to 100 new jobs. (placesjournal.org)
New Mexico's Spaceport America hopes 2018 is a turning point for the facility, but its major tenant will need to follow through on adding up to 100 new jobs. (placesjournal.org)
November 13, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Spaceport America says the federal go-ahead for its main tenant - Virgin Galactic - to launch from Sierra County could make 2018 a turnaround year for the facility.

When it opened more than a decade ago, Virgin Galactic's plans to put humans into space from New Mexico looked like a financial windfall for the state. But the plan hasn't materialized, and so far, only rockets have been launched.

Still, Spaceport America CEO Daniel Hicks said Virgin's announcement of four sub-orbital launches from the site next year is a sign of improvement.

"The existing companies we have now are all at the stage of doing further and more additional launch operations than they did in ’17,” Hicks said. “Which is good news for us. That's why we say [fiscal year] '18 is going to be one of our busiest years."

Critics of the Spaceport have said it's time for New Mexico to cut its losses instead of approving additional state funds for 2018 operations.

The Spaceport was sold as a destination for wealthy adventurers willing to pay $250,000 for a ride into the heavens above New Mexico on Virgin Galactic's private spacecraft. Hicks said he blames multiple setbacks in the commercial space industry, but insists the Spaceport has contributed to New Mexico's economy.

"The initial construction of a spaceport in New Mexico, we're already seeing jobs, which is the main driver of an economy. You have people living there getting a payroll, a high-tech payroll,” he said. "That's happening today, and that's just increasing more each year."

Virgin Galactic says it has added 10 full-time employees in New Mexico in the past year and plans to have 30 full-time staffers in the state by year's end, with possibly another 85 employees by the end of 2018.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM