Spaceport America update, a gubernatorial visit to MARS

County commissioners in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, approved earlier this week a plan to pave a road to Spaceport America. The paving will be paid by the spaceport project, although the county is contributing the equivalent of $200,000 in engineering and surveying services for the project, which will pave an existing road to cut the travel time to the spaceport for people coming from the south. Spaceport developers are also dealing with a drop in the water table in the region that has affected a number of nearby residents, whose wells have gone dry as a result of heavy use of water during the spaceport’s construction, particularly when paving its 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) runway. The water table is “showing all the right signs of recharge”, said Spaceport America director Rick Homans, but residents are still concerned about any long-term affects.

On the other side of the country, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley visited Wallops Flight Facility, home to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), earlier this week. Wallops is in Virginia, but close to the Maryland border; many people who work there live in Maryland. The statement by O’Malley’s office about the visit said little about the commercial potential of the spaceport, instead playing up the impact of NASA and other government space-related spending on state’s economy. By contrast, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has played up the commercial potential of Wallops, including plans by Orbital Sciences Corporation to launch ISS cargo missions from MARS using its new Taurus 2 rocket.

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