May 1st was officially International Space Day. And here in Southern New Mexico, we know our fair share about Space. It was in the Land of Enchantment that the very first rockets for space exploration were tested in the 1940s. We’re still surrounded by facilities like NASA, White Sands Missile Range, McGregor Range, Stallion Range, and a long-running project of the new Millenium in the civilian sector; Spaceport America.
Their motto? “Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Here” And they’re living up to it. Per their website, “Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has a rocket friendly environment of 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, low population density, a 12,000-foot runway, vertical launch complexes, and about 340 days of sunshine and low humidity. Some of the most respected companies in the commercial space industry are customers at Spaceport America: Virgin Galactic, Boeing, UP Aerospace, EXOS Aerospace, HyperSciences, and SpinLaunch”
Lyndsey Kalson, Operations Manager for Bravo Mic Communications and Las Cruces Today, sat down for our first of our newest monthly feature, The Las Cruces Today Spaceport Spotlight, with Spaceport America’s Public Relations Director, Alice Carruth. Here’s the full interview –
Lyndsey and Alice talk about the latest test flights, project plans coming to the region, and the precautions staff have had to take during the global pandemic. Not only that, but it seems our timing was pretty impeccable. While they were on the phoneline this afternoon, Virgin Galactic's latest test flight was over our heads and gliding through the skies of Southern NM for another successful test run in as many weeks.
And if Alice sounds familiar, that is because she is also the director of the Las Cruces Space Festival which has postponed the 2020 event in light of public health and safety. You can learn more about that with our pre-event-cancellation interview back in March here-
Here is the latest news release from Alice Carruth, Public Relations Director, Spaceport America
Spaceport America, NM – April 30, 2020 – While the entire world is in various stages of Stay at Home orders, the team at Spaceport America continues to provide essential services while following State of New Mexico Public Health Orders with guidance from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. All non-essential work has been paused, and the Spaceport America team is continuing to support business operations defined in the Governor’s list of essential services. Most of Spaceport America’s employees are teleworking from home, with limited staff supporting reduced operations for Spaceport customers.
“We have implemented additional screening criteria for all personnel that enter the Spaceport Complex based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations,” said Spaceport America Site Operations Manager, Chris Lopez. “And the Spaceport America Security and Firefighter teams are constantly looking and planning for different scenarios that may impact the safety and security of the personnel and the site.”
Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks added, “Due to restrictions imposed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have canceled non-essential activities, including our annual Spaceport America Cup, which was scheduled to be held in June. We will continue to work with the Governor’s team to determine when Spaceport America can reopen to the public. Additionally, Spaceport America is grateful to Virgin Galactic for their outstanding community outreach to assist local hospitals and their regional response measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.”