Thursday, December 13, 2012

Virgin to abandon N.M. spaceport? Richardson to abandon Bason?

The deal was sold to New Mexicans in classic Richard Branson fashion. If taxpayers would build the colorful British businessman a $209 million futuristic spaceport, he would make New Mexico the launching point for a space tourism business catering to the rich and famous. Now, with Spaceport America nearly complete but still mostly empty, a Virgin Galactic official says the company will reassess its agreement if lawmakers don't pass liability exemption laws for its suppliers, raising the possibility it could take its spacecraft elsewhere. And state officials acknowledge that the company - which has yet to post a deposit for what is supposed to be a $1 million-a-year lease - could walk away from the quarter-billion-dollar project. Paul Gessing, president of the conservative Rio Grande Foundation, said the lack of protections for the state was not surprising, "given the Richardson administration's record of throwing money at 'development' of these big vision projects" like the spaceport and a $400 million commuter train. "What is truly unique about this project is that it was completely, 100 percent speculative," he said. Tourism and spaceport officials have estimated as many as 200,000 people a year will visit the first-of-its kind center. And officials promised it would spur economic development and bring high-paying jobs to the mostly rural state. But other space companies have passed New Mexico over and there is growing skepticism about whether Virgin, which has pushed its estimated date for starting flights from 2011 to 2014, will ever move into the spaceport...more

Maybe Bason can get Interior to do some of those "high-flow" releases on the Rio Grande.  That way folks could raft down the river and take pictures of the abandoned Spaceport.

One source tells me Bason is negotiating to acquire a $209 million barn to house his Bason Burro Bodyguards and Bason Organic Beef operations.  The source said the delay is caused by Richardson, who hasn't yet agreed to the project.  Stay tuned... 

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