New Mexico Governor Declares Space Her State’s Next Frontier

January 13, 2020 by Dan McCue
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham at last week's Space Valley Summit.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last week declared the burgeoning space industry is one of her nine economic growth sectors for the state.

“New Mexico is truly breaking barriers in the space industry,” the governor said as she opened New Mexico’s first Space Valley Summit on Thursday.

“If it can be done anywhere – not just in the country, but in the world – it can be done better and quicker here,” she said.

The summit brought together federal and state partners in New Mexico’s space industry community.

Under the leadership of Dan Hicks, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Dr. Dan Arivzu, chancellor of New Mexico State University, and Dr. Thomas Cooley, chief scientist at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, the group agreed to work together as a “collaboratory” to foster coordination, collaboration and resource sharing.

According to Hicks, the “collaboratory” will be a forum in which parties propose, consider and refine ideas, concepts and strategies promoting development of the aerospace business and economy in New Mexico; partner to obtain grants, funding and sponsorships and execute research, development, testing and other activities within their respective expertise.

Other topics on the summit’s agenda included enhancing science education, how New Mexico can retain graduates, opportunities for the state to attract more aerospace businesses, and the Trump administration’s recent creation of the U.S. Space Force.

New Mexico is already home to Spaceport America, a facility that opened in October 2011, 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 spaceway, and 340 days of sunshine a year.

Among the space industry companies already using the facility are Virgin Galactic, Boeing, UP Aerospace, EnergeticX, EXOS Aerospace, and SpinLaunch.

Other attendees at last week’s summit included leaders from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, White Sands Missile Range, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico National Guard, the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, and the Professional Aerospace Contractors Association of New Mexico, and Virgin Galactic.

“The objective of this summit was to unite New Mexico’s federal and state agencies in support of our nation’s space sector,” Hicks said. “We did just that and set up a structure to move forward.”

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