Spaceport America

18July2015

Here's my Jersey on the Spaceport.

WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?
Losing SpaceX to McGregor, TX while indeed a large blow to Spaceport America, was alas not a fatal blow. The facility still has one last chance, one last hope, of becoming self sufficient. Out of all the original tenets that were suppose to pay rent, only Virgin Galactic (VG) remains.

Oh help us VG! You’re our only hope...

Anyway, insofar as the Spaceport goes, there really is both kinds of news at play here. First, the good news: as of 2015, Spaceport America is actually generating revenue. This becomes state exhibit number one for the idea that the Spaceport can at least generate some kind of revenue in the first place. The trick here is to generate enough revenue to cover operating costs.

Now the bad news: as of 2015, revenue equaled to about half of total operating cost of $500,000 per year (Spaceport Finances). Additionally, the Spaceport is currently experiencing a $1.2M shortfall. We may also need another $3.6M to cover other shortfalls. That gives us a really short shortfall of $4.8M (A Spaceport America's Financial Outlook). Then add half the annual operating costs of the Spaceport; New Mexico taxpayers are on the hook for quite a lot of money! The total comes out to $4,800,000 plus $250,000 per year. Over a five year period, that’s around $6M, which is about three percent of the total already spent in support of the Spaceport so far.

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YOU WANT THE SOLUTION OR WHAT?
Keep the Spaceport afloat until VG can start flying! Agreed that it is a fairly expensive proposition, and it makes us very dependent on VG’s success or failure. However (assuming success), the long term payoff is well worth it. The reason for this is rooted in basic economic theory: the Multiplier Effect (M.E.).

The M.E. for Spaceport America could work out as something like this: when Virgin Galactic begins flying, actual people will want to come see actual tourists going into actual outer space. So they will need food (restaurants, microbreweries), clothing (shops), and shelter (hotels/motels). Once these business are established, other space entrepreneurs will become attracted to setting up shop at the Spaceport (paying their rents, of course), and Spaceport revenue will eventually grow to the point where revenue exceeds payments and the Spaceport becomes self–sufficient. You gotta problem with that?

In the mean time, keep the thing afloat. Don’t sell it off! It will eventually make money, even if it takes a wee bit more time, thanks to the loss of an very important client like SpaceX (I’m looking at you, Governor Martinez).

But one must have faith. It got us all the way to the Moon once before. VG is scheduled to fly by September of next year (Advanced Television). Four years after that and the Spaceport should be self sufficient. There’s the five years and $6M. But here’s what we get in return: they may have “Silicone Valley”, but we’ll have “Space Tourism Alley.” It just takes a little political courage, that's all.

Cough. Up. The. Money.

Now that's how you get those tourists into space. How ‘bout youse guys?

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