New Mexico Announcement
Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority have signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the terms under which Virgin Galactic would lease hangar and terminal facilities for its operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
In a further exciting step towards full commercial operations, Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority have signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the terms under which Virgin Galactic would lease hangar and terminal facilities for its operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico. This represents a significant commitment by Virgin Galactic to be the anchor tenant at Spaceport America, and to help New Mexico grow a thriving new industry.
For full details please see the full press release: Virgin Galactic and New Mexico Spaceport Authority Sign Milestone MOA for Spaceport America Lease LAS CRUCES — Virgin Galactic today signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) setting out the terms under which Virgin Galactic would lease approximately 83,400 square feet of hangar and terminal facilities at Spaceport America, announced Rick Homans, chairman of the NMSA and Cabinet Secretary of the NM Economic Development Department. “This agreement is a historic milestone for Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America,” said Homans. “It represents months of negotiation and the outline of a substantive partnership to launch the commercial space industry.” “Virgin Galactic is looking forward to bringing our base of operations to Spaceport America and our world headquarters to New Mexico,” said Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic. “This agreement represents a significant commitment by Virgin Galactic to be the anchor tenant at Spaceport America, and to help New Mexico grow a thriving new industry around commercial space companies.”
The MOA was signed today at New Mexico State University at 4 p.m. Over the next few months, the MOA will be developed into a legal lease agreement. A legal lease agreement with an “anchor tenant” such as Virgin Galactic is one of three conditions that the NMSA must meet before it can use $100 million of state capital outlay. The other two conditions include a bona fide cost estimate of $225 million or less for an operational spaceport, and receipt of a site operator’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration. The MOA was approved by Virgin Galactic’s Board of Directors in New York City on March 13th, and it has been reviewed in detail by members of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, who authorized Homans to sign the document on the Authority’s behalf.
Key components of the Agreement are:
1. Virgin Galactic will locate its primary launch and operational activities at Spaceport America and its global headquarters in New Mexico.
2. The NMSA will construct common facilities at Spaceport America that will include runways, emergency facilities, fuel storage and delivery, perimeter security, restaurant and concessions, and visitor viewing areas. Tenants will pay User Fees to use these facilities. These fees have yet to be established.
3. Virgin Galactic will lease facilities at Spaceport America, including a dedicated terminal and hangar, as well as state-of-the-art medical facilities, mission control, staff clubhouse, and office accommodations for Virgin Galactic personnel.
4. In addition to the lease payments for its own premises at the spaceport, Virgin Galactic will pay the NMSA a ground lease for land it uses, as well as User Fees for its use of the common facilities at the spaceport.
5. The NMSA will establish a Spaceport Advisory Committee, consisting of Virgin Galactic and other tenants, to advise and work with the NMSA on operations, budget, capital improvements, maintenance, marketing and branding.
Homans said the NMSA will build and own the Virgin Galactic facilities, and then lease them to Virgin Galactic in return for payments of approximately $27.5 million over 20 years which would equate to a blended rental rate of approximately $16.50 per square foot. During the MOA negotiations, the Authority was assisted by Jacobs Consultancy of Burlingame, California. Spaceport America is a landmark project that will be built in Sierra County, 45 miles northeast of Las Cruces. According to economic forecasts by NMSU and Futron Corporation, Spaceport America may spur up to 5,000 new jobs and up to $1 billion in new revenue in the State. Spaceport America is scheduled to open for business in late 2009 or early 2010. About Virgin Galactic Virgin Galactic is the world’s first spaceline. Virgin Galactic was established by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to undertake the challenge of making private space travel available to everyone. Virgin Galactic will own and operate privately built spaceships, based on the history-making SpaceShipOne. These spaceships, which are currently under construction in Mojave, California, will allow private sub-orbital space travel for the first time in history. In addition to Virgin Galactic’s $27.5 million in lease payments towards the development of Spaceport America, the company is currently investing over $200 million dollars in the development of the new SpaceShipTwo system and bringing it to New Mexico. The company also believes that the system and derivatives of it in the future may be capable of a range of scientific and commercial payload applications. Such applications would widen the scope to develop a number of business opportunities in addition to space tourism.
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