Image Caption: White Knight Two and SpaceShipTwo on the taxiway at Spaceport America.
Credit: Jeff Foust/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)

Virgin Galactic Threatening To Leave New Mexico Spaceport Over Liability Coverage

January 14, 2013

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Officials from Virgin Galactic are reportedly threatening to pull their support from a $200-plus million, publicly financed spaceport in New Mexico unless an accident liability waver is extended to cover manufacturers and component suppliers.

According to Edward Helmore of The Guardian, Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism company has been displeased with state lawmakers failure to grant the extension.

New Mexico legislators are scheduled to discuss the liability issue this week, he says, but there have been mixed reactions to the company’s request, largely because it is currently not known what kinds of risks are involved with commercial, suborbital flight.

The facility, which is known as Spaceport America, cost $209 million to build – funds that were raised through bond issues and tax increases, The Guardian reported Saturday.

This week, Branson is scheduled to make the first monthly rent payment for use of the spaceport – a payment that the Associated Press (AP) reports will cost Virgin Galactic more than $85,000, or 1/12 the $1 million charge agreed to under a 20-year lease in 2009.

However, that payment will only be made by Branson’s firm if “all the terms of its lease agreement have been met,” the wire service added. “Anger has been rising after Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides indicated last year that failure to pass new legislation would force his company to rethink its plans,” Helmore added.

Read more: Spaceport Liability Coverage An Issue For Virgin Galactic – Space News – redOrbit.

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