"We are so happy we have Virgin Galactic as anchors," said Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Space Authority, which is lobbying lawmakers to approve informed consent. "But we want to attract more tenants. ... I think this is really a critical piece of legislation that New Mexico has to have."
Nelson says his company hasn't ruled out one day flying his Lynx aircraft in New Mexico. But he says the legislature's wavering on the liability exemptions "sends a message that we cannot expect a consistent response," he said.
Meantime, Branson's estimate for a first manned flight has been pushed back until late 2013 at the earliest. And questions remain about the facility's tourism draw.
Tourism and Spaceport officials have estimated as many as 200,000 people a year would visit the futuristic center. Branson told a national hotel conference in 2011 that he might put one of his still to be developed Virgin hotels in the area. But there has been no further word on that hotel, or others that have been rumored to cater to the space crowd.
Ignatiev estimates it will be 10 years before the commercial space business really takes off, "And I don't know how many states or commercial entities can sit around for 10 years and wait for business to show up. They are going to have a problem staying viable."
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