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Aerospace Growth Mulled by Airport

With more commercial space flight activity and new entrepreneurs entering the market, Las Cruces is looking for ways to attract additional Aerospace investment to the area, including the role that its municipal airport may play. The updated master plan is a requirement of its certification with the Federal Aviation Administration and a guide for city planning as the facility looks to short- and long-term needs, including economic development opportunities. The airport was built as a military air base during World War II and transferred to the city in 1955.

The strategy “ensures that the parts you need for expansion are either in place or, if they aren’t, how we get them in place,” according to airport administrator Andy Hume. As commercial activity at Spaceport America, 50 miles north of the city, is expected to speed up next year, a new focus for the airport’s master plan will be Aerospace and what changes may be made at the airport to make Las Cruces more appealing to the industry.

While the spaceport is most known for its anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, other tenants and clients such as UP Aerospace, SpinLaunch, and HAPSMobile/Aerovironment are also active at the remote facility outside of Truth or Consequences.

Even though Virgin Galactic is a “pretty steady presence” at the airport, flying engineers between Las Cruces and its manufacturing base of operations in Mojave, California, according to Hume, the most recent master plan, adopted in 2018, did not assess the proximity of the spaceport or growth. Las Cruces is already “on the map” for US Aerospace, according to a consultant on the master plan update, and is ideally positioned to attract more enterprises involved in production and supply chains for the booming satellite and reusable rocket industries.

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