The first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world, Spaceport America aims to be a viable aerospace station for the New Mexico region in terms of manufacturing, production, and testing.

Advantages of operating a spaceport in New Mexico

Spaceport America is owned and operated by the State of New Mexico via the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Our launch complex sits on about 18,000 acres adjacent to the US Army White Sands Missile Range. This proximity gives us advantages that other spaceports do not have, such as six thousand miles of restricted airspace for our clients and a low population density around our 12,000-foot-long runway. 

Plus, our three complexes, our advanced technology complex, our horizontal launch area and our vertical launch area all make us fairly unique when it comes to spaceports in the United States. And our remoteness makes us a good place to do test launches, because there’s an inherent risk mitigation in being away from a major population center.

We want to attract potential new clients, educate state residents, and create strong community relationships.

Key New Mexico Partnerships & Projects

Our anchor tenant is Virgin Galactic, who has done three launches in the span of four months out here. So we’re really seeing them ramp up their operations. We also have SpinLaunch, which is a kinetic launch system. They’ve built out in our advanced technology area a big launch system roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty that uses kinetic energy, which is basically the way it sounds. They spin something up to a specific velocity and then they launch it.

And one of our newest projects is with a company called Prismatic LLC. They launched a solar-powered UAV HAPS system called PHASA-35, and that reached stratospheric heights in their first test here in late June 2023. This vehicle has applications that include defense and threat detection, environmental impact studies, aerial mapping, Wi-Fi distribution to remote areas, and others. 

We have a lot of exciting things going on, and we’re looking to expand our client base as much as we can.

Socio-economic impacts on the New Mexico community

We encourage New Mexico to take ownership of this spaceport and its successes, which is what I love about the job. One example of the economic impact is Virgin Galactic spending $200 million. About $25 million went to local businesses through purchases from approximately 230 suppliers — just from our anchor tenant.

Our goal is to turn the I-25 and I-10 corridor into Space Valley. And with 2040 growth projections at $1 billion to $1.2 billion, the benefits to the region are ongoing.

Local education support & STEM programs

We are very, very proud of our connection to schools in the region and being a driver of STEM education from young ages. Right now, the trajectory for individuals is, once they discover their love of STEM at a young age, they attend schools in the region, but find their careers elsewhere.

What we want to do is foster STEM education, foster the passions that students have for it, and then ensure that we can retain all that talent in this region, and help them see that there are high-profile STEM jobs right here. We do tours of our facility and do presentations with a number of our individuals that are employed here for kids, and we really make it fun and engaging for them.

The Spaceport America Cup is our really, really big annual event, which is a university-age rocket competition. In 2023 we had about 1,700 rocketeers from 19 different countries attend. For the first time, six of the seven continents on the planet were represented, too, making this a truly global event. It brings a ton of money into the area every year and gives the students a lot of networking opportunities, and gives our sponsors a lot of recruiting opportunities.

MRGEDA & the Middle Rio Grande region

My first interaction with MRGEDA came through a connection that one of our other employees made. And we reached out and hosted them at the spaceport to do a facility tour and discuss what we do and how it positively impacts the community and the state as a whole.

Then we were fortunate enough to get in touch with Kirstin and her whole team and she brought out between 30 and 40 people to our site for a presentation that covered every single base that we had. And now we’re in the process of becoming a MRGEDA member.

The Middle Rio Grande region as a whole is really, really, really important. We want people to know that we are committed to serving the people of this region through the work that we do. We want to be great to the people who have been great to us, and interface on a consistent basis with community members that some of us don’t get to see all that often. It’s a great way to make partnerships and gain knowledge of what’s going on in the area. 

Why did you become a MRGEDA member?

When you look at the cross-section of individuals and businesses that MRGEDA has associated with it, you’re looking at all kinds of individuals and all kinds of industry in this region. If you want to make connections, grow your business, and foster partnerships and relationships, it’s a great way to do it.

MRGEDA fosters a sense of regional pride and community and just helpfulness and togetherness, where we all want to see each other succeed. It’s just a great community to be part of.

Start your membership journey today.

Spaceport America uses its MRGEDA membership to build networks, increase community engagement, and create prosperity — so can you!

Contact MRGEDA to learn how you can become a MRGEDA member and participate in this exciting growth opportunity in Middle Rio Grande Valley.