SPACEPORT FUNDS IN BUDGET? LEGISLATORS PUSH FOR $11 MILLION LOAN.Byline: JIM Jim
Miss Watson’s runaway slave; Huck’s traveling companion. [Am. Lit.: Huckleberry Finn]
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MOJAVE -- Antelope Valley This article is about the Los Angeles County region. For the census-designated place in Wyoming, see Antelope Valley-Crestview, Wyoming.
The Antelope Valley legislators are trying to get into the state budget an $11 million loan to help Mojave Airport build a hangar complex and terminal for space tourism.
The 40,000-square-foot hangar and a 50,000-square-foot terminal with associated hangars for preflight pre·flight
Preparing for or occurring before flight.
tr.v. pre·flight·ed, pre·flight·ing, pre·flights
To check (an aircraft) for airworthiness before flight. training are expected to be used first by British tycoon Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Virgin Galactic is a company within Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, which plans to offer sub-orbital spaceflights and later orbital spaceflights to the paying public. Mission , which is working with Mojave's Burt Rutan Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan (born June 17, 1943 in Estacada, Oregon) is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. to build a fleet of sub-orbital spacecraft to carry passengers paying $200,000 each.
``We have to be competitive with other states to maintain this unique business opportunity in California,'' said state Sen. George Runner George C. Runner, Jr. (born March 25 1952 in Scotia, New York) is a Republican California State Senator, who represents the 17th Senate District, which includes portions of Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County. , R-Lancaster. ``In return, we get our money back and hopefully we can be attractive for this industry.''
Runner and state Sen. Roy Ashburn Roy Ashburn (born March 21, 1954 in Long Beach, California) is the California State Senator representing the 18th District, which includes Kern, Tulare, Inyo and San Bernardino Counties. , R-Bakersfield, co-authored a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ] asking him to include the loan for the East Kern Airport District, which operates the Mojave Airport. A similar letter was sent by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner Sharon Runner (born May 17 1954, Los Angeles) is a Californian politician. She has been a member of the California State Assembly since 2002. Runner, a Republican from Antelope Valley represents the 36th district. , R-Lancaster.
The request is probably too late to be included in the governor's May budget revision, but could be one of the items negotiated for inclusion in the final budget, George Runner said.
But a consultant to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee refers to the loan as ``millions for a billionaire.''
``The proposed research facility would be occupied by Virgin Galactic and its partners for research and development activities,'' consultant Jennifer Gress wrote. ``In effect, the state would be subsidizing the construction of a building to house operations for a company whose owner has a net worth in the billions.''
Mojave Airport General Manager Stu Witt called the consultant's analysis a disservice to California.
``In the first place, the money is not going to Richard Branson Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950 -- period,'' Witt said. ``It's going to the East Kern Airport District. With that money, we will build infrastructure.'' in Shamley Green, Surrey, England), is a British entrepreneur, best known for his Virgin brand of over 360
In their letter, Ashburn and Runner said traditional funding mechanisms that are available to other local governments such as general obligation bonds and revenue bonds are not feasible because of the small, rural nature of the airport.
The senators also wrote that the state is facing intense competition from for the space tourism industry.
``For now, we have an advantage over these other locations -- we have existing infrastructure in place at the Mojave Airport,'' the senators wrote. ``But if we want to continue to be the leader in this new industry, California must invest in the airport.''
In addition to seeking the funding through the budget process, Ashburn has authored Senate Bill 1671 to authorize the loan. That bill is on hold in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Ashburn calls the request to assist the airport district a ``modest loan to help keep this 21st century industry here where it began.''
Witt emphasized the request is for a loan, not a grant. Witt said other states are competing to grab a share of the emerging space tourism industry.
New Mexico, for example, is putting up $225 million to build a spaceport space·port
An installation for sheltering, testing, maintaining, and launching spacecraft. . Branson has said Virgin Galactic's space flights will begin in Mojave, and are expected to move to New Mexico when that state's spaceport is built.
``I think the tenants (of the airport) want to know if California is a long-term player in this industry,'' Witt said.
In her letter to Schwarzenegger, Sharon Runner also pointed out the competition from other states.
``Currently, other states are actively working to build their own spaceports to seize upon this emerging commercial space flight industry and technology,'' Sharon Runner wrote. ``The $11 million loan contemplated under SB 1671 is a minimal upfront investment, which will reap sizeable returns in the future, especially if we can prevent this industry from leaving the state.''