Whither OSIDA?

On Monday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill establishing tax credits on salaries of engineers hired by aerospace companies in the state. The legislation is designed to encourage aerospace companies in the state to hire employees (especially those educated in the state) by creating or moving jobs there.

Buried near the end of the article, though, is some news about the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, the state agency that runs the Oklahoma Spaceport, a former Air Force base in Burns Flat. Fallin is seeking to effectively eliminate OSIDA as an independent agency by cutting its roughly half-million-dollar budget and folding it into another state agency, such as the Department of Commerce or the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. “I’m actually working with our legislators and Department of Commerce on further continuing to market that facility,” she told the AP, “but yet also trying to figure out how we can have shared resources as it relates to the aerospace industry and especially (the Space Industry Development Authority).”

The spaceport was to be the home base for Rocketplane and its XP suborbital vehicle, but the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation last year, effectively leaving the spaceport without a customer. (Armadillo Aerospace has used the site for some low-altitude test flights in the past, but is flying their higher altitude space missions from Spaceport America in New Mexico.) Ironically, the tax credits Rocketplane received for moving to Oklahoma several years ago (what the company often called “winning the O Prize”) became one of the reasons legislators cited when they created a moratorium on tax credits last year that was partially lifted by the new law.

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