The race to be ready for the launch of the world’s first commercial flights from Spaceport America came undone when Virgin Galactic’s spaceship broke up over the California desert during a test flight.
Now the New Mexico Spaceport Authority is focusing on drawing more tenants to the $US250 million ($A270 million) spaceport and on maintaining support from state lawmakers.
Executive director Christine Anderson was called out by Republican Patricia Lundstrom for handing members of an interim legislative finance committee a presentation mostly of photographs.
Lawmakers wanted hard numbers and details about how to get past last month’s Virgin Galactic disaster for the taxpayer-financed spaceport.
“It just made all of us look like idiots, like we don’t do our homework,” Anderson said. “That’s not the case whatsoever.”
Anderson said just a month earlier she testified for six hours to the same committee on the the spaceport authority achievements and objectives.
Lundstrom wasn’t at that meeting and neither were dozens of other legislators.
Anderson said the spaceport authority needed to do a better job of informing each lawmaker, and foster more ties with business leaders to “beat the bushes” as the search continues for tenants.
The board is planning another meeting before year’s end to discuss business plan updates, and Anderson has called for meetings with state economic development officials to enlist their help.
Spaceport America’s anchor tenant is Virgin Galactic but, with flights delayed indefinitely, the state stands to lose about $1.7 million a year.
Some of the deficit can be made up from other events, including fashion and car photo shoots and more rocket launches by companies such as UP Aerospace, Anderson said.
More money is set to come from the testing scheduled to begin next northern spring for a reusable rocket being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
SpaceX has spent $2 million in infrastructure improvements, and Virgin Galactic is forecast to spend more than $3 million building the main hangar and terminal that has become the face of the spaceport.
Spaceport officials told lawmakers that one challenge in courting new tenants is that many are years from becoming operational.
Still, Lundstrom and other lawmakers said they wanted the spaceport to succeed for New Mexico and the burgeoning commercial space industry.