Luján Invites Secretary Buttigieg to Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Launch

Washington, D.C. –Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, invited U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to New Mexico for an upcoming launch of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo this summer. In a letter to Buttigieg, Senator Luján highlights how the burgeoning commercial space travel industry will benefit New Mexico and the nation.

“The expansion of commercial space exploration holds huge promise and benefits for our country. It will help support government-backed research and programs, provide a platform to conduct cutting edge research, and lend inspiration to the next generation of engineers, scientists, artists and mathematicians,” wrote Luján.

“I am also optimistic that the launches you will see out of the state this year will support the expansion of commercial space tourism, R&D, and operations in New Mexico, which all starts with Spaceport America. Located in southern New Mexico, home to 340 days of sunshine and low humidity, the community is extremely proud of the spaceport facility. The facility was built with significant investment from the state and private industry and is a magnet for companies on the cutting edge of aerospace technology. As commercial space testing and space tourism grow, the economic impact for the state is expected to be significant,” he continued.

Full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Secretary Buttigieg,

Congratulations on your historic confirmation as the Secretary of Transportation. I sincerely appreciate you sharing your perspective on the transportation and infrastructure challenges facing not only our cities, but also our small towns and the entirety of rural America. As a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, I look forward to working with you to rebuild and modernize our crumbling infrastructure for generations to come.

New Mexico has many infrastructure needs in order to ensure our agriculture, tourism, national laboratories and overall economy can grow and thrive. As a national leader in dairy, pecans, and world famous Hatch Chile, it’s imperative that we have a highway funding system that ensures rural communities are not only able to get their products to market but also have quick access to essential services such as health care. New Mexico also boasts beautiful and historic public lands, and affordable, reliant transportation options such as long-distance rail and essential air service airports are vital to providing those options to tourists interested in visiting my state.

One of the critical areas that your department oversees is our growing space infrastructure and the commercial companies championing this next race to space. As you get acquainted with the full scope of how the Department can support this growing field, I want to extend a personal invitation for you to attend one of the upcoming launches of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico this year. The launches, expected to begin this summer, will make New Mexico only the third state ever to have sent humans to space. This effort will not only set the stage for a high cadence of future commercial spaceflights, but it will also highlight the full private astronaut experience Virgin Galactic has created.

The expansion of commercial space exploration holds huge promise and benefits for our country. It will help support government-backed research and programs, provide a platform to conduct cutting edge research, and lend inspiration to the next generation of engineers, scientists, artists and mathematicians. I am also optimistic that the launches you will see out of the state this year will support the expansion of commercial space tourism, R&D, and operations in New Mexico, which all starts with Spaceport America. Located in southern New Mexico, home to 340 days of sunshine and low humidity, the community is extremely proud of the spaceport facility. The facility was built with significant investment from the state and private industry and is a magnet for companies on the cutting edge of aerospace technology. As commercial space testing and space tourism grow, the economic impact for the state is expected to be significant. I hope to show you not just what Virgin Galactic has established at the facility but also the operations of critical customers from the aerospace industry like Boeing, UP Aerospace, and SpinLaunch, who have all announced plans to conduct tests at Spaceport America in the coming years.

I look forward to welcoming you to New Mexico for a launch this year and I am eager to work with you on shared transportation priorities important to the state of New Mexico. Thank you for all you are doing for our country—we need strong investment in our roads, bridges, rail and space economy. With you at the helm, I know it can happen.

###