A “Rocket City” in New Mexico? Maybe.

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.

3 comments to A “Rocket City” in New Mexico? Maybe.

  • […] Posted: Friday, July 07, 2006 7:32 PM by Alan Boyle Categories: Daily Dose • ‘Nova’ on PBS: Return to ‘The Elegant Universe’• N.Y. Times (reg. req.): It’s an auction, Jim, but not as we know it â€¢ Personal Spaceflight: A ‘rocket city’ in New Mexico? Maybe• The Economist: The big sleep […]

  • David Masterson

    Several points of interest from someone who has been following this company’s progress here in Las Cruces. 22nd Century is not a mistake, the plans are to project a totally futuristic development. And there’s no way anyone outside of the company could know how much of the money has been raised, so why would you presume that only a small fraction has been raised? And finally, all the documents the City requested were supplied a full six months before Starchaser chose to end discussions with the City. The company decided to end negotiations AFTER discovering that the City had lost all the confidential financials and business plans it had provided. This is from someone who was at every City Council Meeting and heard the whole story firsthand, didn’t just read the Sun-News version.
    Why isn’t there a link to Starchaser’s website on your page?

  • Jeff Foust


    In response to your comments:

    – The term “22nd century” is pretty meaningless, at least to me, and sounds a little too much like science fiction. But then, maybe Starchaser has some unique insights into what space vehicles of the next century will look like.

    – My presumption that the company has raised only a small fraction of the $100 million needed to develop Rocket City is based on the slow pace of development Starchaser has demonstrated in the last several years. Given the number of competitors seeking to be the first entrants into the suborbital space tourism market (Virgin Galactic, Rocketplane, Blue Origin, Space Adventures, etc.) it would seem likely that Starchaser would be spending money to speed up development of their vehicles if they had in fact raised a sizable sum of funding.

    – In a followup article in the Las Cruces Sun-News, city officials reiterated their claims that they never received, and thus did not lose, required documentation from Starchaser. (And if the city did lose the paperwork, why didn’t the company simply resubmit it?) This sounds too much like an unprovable he-said/she-said dispute.

    – There is now a link to Starchaser’s web site, which had been previously omitted as a simple oversight.

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