Spaceport America lease and funding details

As has been widely reported, the state of New Mexico and Virgin Galactic signed a lease agreement Monday afternoon for Spaceport America. Technically, the agreement is not a full-fledged lease but instead a memorandum of understanding between the two regarding the terms of the real lease agreement, which will be worked out over the next few months. The Las Cruces Sun-News provides a list of details about the agreement, including the planned Virgin Galactic rental payments ($1 million a year for the first five years, gradually increasing to $1.5 million for the remaining 15 years of the agreement, plus rent on the land occupied by Virgin’s facilities at the spaceport) and that Virgin will be granted “preferred status” for the use of spaceport facilities for an unspecified length of time., meanwhile, finds an interesting development about spaceport funding: the state has agreed to release $33 million in previously-approved funding for the project even though one key criterion for that money—an FAA spaceport license—has yet to be attained. A press release from the state’s Economic Development Department, dated March 17th. notes that the governor and legislature made the decision to keep the spaceport on schedule to open “by late 2009 or early 2010″ even though it now appears that the spaceport license won’t be ready until early 2008.

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