LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Virgin Galactic said Thursday it will make the first-ever rent payment this month for use of Spaceport America in New Mexico as long as all the terms of its lease agreement have been met.

State officials have said the company will pay $85,833 monthly, according to a calculation based on information from the spaceport, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

The amount is one-twelfth of the $1 million a year charged to Virgin Galactic for use of the facilities. It will pay another $2,500 a month in rent for land.

The terminal-hangar, dubbed the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, is the main facility to be used by the company to launch tourists to suborbital space, once operations start. The first flights could happen this year.

The lease agreement takes the space facility one step closer to financial independence, said David Buchholtz, a board member of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

Authority executive director Christine Anderson said the rent will begin accruing Jan. 15.

Due to delays in both the construction of Spaceport America and development of Virgin’s spacecraft, the company hasn’t begun paying rent on the facility, which is located in remote southern New Mexico, about 45 miles from Las Cruces and 200 miles from Albuquerque.

An unsigned, undated copy of the lease agreement provided by the state calls for Virgin Galactic to be penalized $2 million if it breaks its lease with New Mexico and then begins flying elsewhere within two years.


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