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Letter writer correct about spaceport


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Yes, Spaceport America should be self-supporting.

Mr. D. Dowd Muske, in the Oct. 4 edition of the Roswell Daily Record, commented that Spaceport America should be self-supporting. He is absolutely right. While it is true that there have been some improvements such as a newsletter and a location for civilian-type drones, the facility has not moved toward financial self-sufficiency in any meaningful way. In short, as a space-oriented enterprise, it should be a leader in launching innovative space-related ideas to attract visitors and revenues. That has not happened.

By interacting with agencies such as NASA, free-enterprise and others abroad, new ideas that attract eager visitors should be on the drawing boards. Some examples: A plan for testing moon soil for growing corn and other food plants could be set up with NASA’s cooperation. Visitors could even sample some of the produce for taste comparisons such as popcorn or potatoes grown in moon dust borrowed from NASA. Spaceport America should be a leader in exploring new space-related fields.

Climatically controlled rooms replicating various soil temperatures of Mars could be set up to test various kinds of vegetation, perhaps some fungi species and even extremophile life forms found in extremely hot or cold environments on Earth. That’s how we move the industry forward.

Tests can examine whether certain Earth-origin plants can be grown in facsimile underground chambers as they would exist on the moon by channeling sunlight, which is essential for life, but where temperatures are moderated. A model for this already exists at the Goober-Pedy opal mines in Australia. And that is just the beginning of all the exciting directions visitors could explore, with some imagination-driven programs. Space-themed rides for children should be available.

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Carlsbad Caverns drew nearly a half-million visitors last year and the caverns are in an out-of-the-way location. Even if Spaceport America only drew half that number, they would be well on their way to shouldering the financial burden that the citizens of New Mexico are paying without dividends to show for it. Altogether, the numbers of visitors would increase as more imaginative and exciting visitor opportunities become available.

We should begin our space explorations right here at Spaceport America in New Mexico, enabling it to become the leading research model as well as the pre-eminent tourist “go to” destination on the map.

Ray Pawley

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