Aerospace reps push New Mexico lawmakers for continued support

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SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico’s growing aerospace industry was front and center at the Roundhouse Tuesday. 

“New Mexico, the place for space,” said Lt. Gov. Howie Morales. 

State officials, and aerospace industry representatives were there to push for continued support from lawmakers. 

Spaceport America is of course the face of New Mexico’s goal to become a major player in the growing commercial space industry. 

“In the last 18 months, Spaceport America has hosted the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds three times,” said New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes. “SpinLaunch has tested 10 times. Multiple UAV customers have used the site, and we have hosted the rocket engine testing.”

According to Keyes, the Spaceport currently has six tenants and employs more than 300 people. 

“Spaceport America continues to support STEM outreach throughout the state, hosting hundreds of New Mexico students on free tours, and mentoring students,” said Keyes. 

Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant at the Spaceport. The company has yet to start launching tourists into space, but we’ve seen progress in recent years, including successful test launches. 

Virgin Galactic also recently purchased land in Sierra County to build an “astronaut campus.” 

“And they continue to upgrade their spaceship to get it ready for commercial operations,” Keyes said. 

At an earnings call in November, Virgin Galactic’s CEO said the company was “on track to launch commercial service in the second quarter of 2023.” 

Virgin Galactic isn’t the only game in town. 

According to New Space New Mexico, there are currently 110 space companies working in New Mexico – that’s up from just 60 companies in 2019. 

“The coalition believes that in 10 years we can be one of the main space hubs in the country,” said TJ Cook, Executive Director of Central New Mexico’s Ingenuity.

Local coalitions are working to build a skilled workforce, and to tout New Mexico’s resources to draw in more companies.

Their message to lawmakers: 

“Come together with us, help us, help us get these resources for these companies,” said Casey Deraad, executive director of New Space New Mexico.