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New Mexico’s spaceport was not conceived as an operation to take rich people into space.
The Las Cruces community and New Mexico State University began working more than 20 years ago to create a commercial spaceport that would take advantage of the area’s many benefits.
Those advantages included good weather, high elevation, clear airspace, a strong NMSU science department and the proximity to White Sands Missile Range.
The purpose of building a spaceport was to get a jump on the rest of the nation and world in building a commercial space industry that would bring business and jobs to the area.
NMSU’s Garrey Carruthers was governor at the time. He supported the idea enthusiastically. Gov. Bruce King followed him and also backed the effort.
Then came Gov. Gary Johnson who let the idea wither, partly because the commercial space industry was not moving as fast as had been expected.
When Gov. Bill Richardson took over in 2003, he was enchanted with the idea. He began by getting a $132 million appropriation to build a spaceport.
Later that year, he talked Dr. Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation, to base his competitions at the spaceport as soon as it was built.
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