Oklahoma Spaceport occupies an Air Force Base that was closed in 1969.

Subspace / Flickr

Oklahoma is Still Spending on Space Tourism

  • Joe Wertz

Subspace / Flickr

Oklahoma Spaceport occupies an Air Force Base that was closed in 1969.

An article published in today’s Wall Street Journal examines New Mexico’s costly spaceport, which was launched in 2006 by former Gov. Bill Richardson.

The current Governor, Susana Martinez, has no interest in having taxpayers continue to subsidize the $209 million spaceport, which she said will have to cover its projected operation budget of $6 million a year.

In the WSJ story, reporters Stephanie Simon and Andy Pasztor reference Oklahoma’s stalled space tourism program, noting the state’s efforts to find tenants for Oklahoma Spaceport, a former Air Force base near Clinton, Okla.

Hit the jump for a video of a test flight at Oklahoma Spaceport.

According to the article, space tourism and commercial space flight is suffering from a weak market and a glut of competing ventures.

From the WSJ story:

Oklahoma’s spaceport, for instance, hasn’t hosted a single launch since it received its Federal Aviation Administration license in 2006. It relies on state funding for 75 percent of its budget, executive director Bill Khourie said.

Like New Mexico’s governor, Gov. Fallin is no fan of taxpayer-subsidized space travel.

When she handed over her 2012 budget to the Legislature last February, Fallin proposed de-funding and disbanding the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, whose stated mission is to plan and develop “spaceport facilities, launch systems and projects… and to successfully promote and stimulate the creation of space commerce, education and space related industries in Oklahoma.”

OSIDA was ultimately funded and given $394,589 in appropriations from House Bill 2170, which Gov. Fallin signed into law on May 24, 2011 — a 7.5 percent cut from its FY2011 budget.

In 2003, the state gave Rocketplane Global owner George French Jr. about $18 million in tax credits to help develop space tourism in Oklahoma.

No spaceship was ever built.

In 2010 the Oklahoma Gazette reported that French, Rocketplane Inc. and its subsidiaries, Rocketplane Global and Rocketplane Kistler, declared bankruptcy.