We don’t know a lot about the new federal Space Development Agency, considering President Donald Trump ordered its formation less than a year ago. But even at this early stage, it makes perfect sense for it to call New Mexico home.
After all, New Mexico joins the White House as the only places with protected airspace from ground level to infinity. We’ve got the people and infrastructure that power:
• The Air Force Research Lab with its Space Vehicles Directorate, a “Center of Excellence” for space technology research and development. Work on lasers, satellites, cryocoolers, high-altitude balloons, plug-and-play avionics and space weather forecasting are among the important projects.
• Sandia National Laboratories, which houses groundbreaking national defense work including a wide range of complex national security issues in space, such as global security remote sensing and verification – detection technologies and systems that reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation.
• Los Alamos National Laboratory, where for decades the Intelligence and Space Research team has designed, built and analyzed data from instrumentation for space missions while monitoring compliance with test ban treaties and exploring space environments.
• Spaceport America, the only spaceport built for the industry – all others are re-tooled airports, etc. It is home to big players in the commercial space industry, including Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, UP Aerospace, EXOS Aerospace and EnergeticX Pipeline2Space.
• Kirtland, Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases and White Sands Missile Range, all home to some of the brightest minds and a wealth of experience in these fields.
• New Space N.M., the innovative public-private partnership that formed last year and looks to be a statewide space chamber of commerce of sorts to track and expand the commercial space industry.
As U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall and U.S. Reps. Deb Haaland, Ben Ray Luján and Xochitl Torres Small wrote in a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, New Mexico is a leader in “advancing ground-breaking new technologies” and could be a natural for the first new military branch in more than 70 years.
Given all New Mexico has to offer in this field, the synergy makes sense and burnishing N.M.’s reputation as a space industry hub should in turn boost tourism, encourage more private industry and invigorate housing and retail markets. Let’s hope our congressional delegation lands this one for N.M.’s economic success.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.