Starchaser Industries, the former British X Prize competitor with operations now in New Mexico, announced Thursday that it plans to create “Rocket City”, a 50-hectare facility about 30 kilometers west of Las Cruces on Interstate 10. The center will host Starchaser’s manufacturing facility and offices, as well as well as training and other tourist features, including “a space-themed hotel with conference facilities.” Or, as the company summarizes in its press release, “Starchaser’s Rocket City, located roughly 50 miles due south and well within striking distance of the Southwest Regional Spaceport, will be a high-tech theme park with an emphasis on science education and a 22nd century space age experience.” Twenty-second century?
The company estimates this to be a ten-year, $100-million project, although the company has already spent $50,000 on a study to identify the center’s location, and has purchased the I-10 frontage property where it will be located. Still, raising $100 million, on top of the money it will need for its sounding rocket and suborbital space tourism program, is bound to be a huge challenge, given the company hasn’t raised even a small fraction of that total to date. The Las Cruces Sun-News points out that Starchaser originally planned to set up operations in an industrial park owned by the city of Las Cruces, but “the project could never be finalized because city officials could not get financial statements and a business plan from Starchaser” as required by state law. So, a little skepticism about this project is certainly warranted here.