Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Governator Snubs Eve

The following text is exerpted from an article by Bill Deaver that was printed prior to the roll out, in the July 24 edition of the Mojave Desert News, and is reprinted by permission. The rollout photos are mine.

Continuing a policy of ignoring one of California's most important industries, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned down an invitation to attend the roll-out of Virgin Galactic's White Knight Two.... [And evidently, a subsequent personal phone call from Sir Richard failed to sway the Governator.]

East Kern Airport District General Manager Stuart Witt said he received a "form letter" from a member of the Governor's staff declining the invitation. "The community needs to know we tried," to once again get Schwarzenegger to pay attention to the booming [pun unintended, I believe] space tourism industry being developed here.

While Schwarzenegger is too busy to travel 300 miles to Mojave for the event, a delegation of New Mexico officials will drive considerably further to attend.... "I'm going to be in the unfortunate position of introducing the new Mexico delegation at the rollout," Witt said. While Schwarzenegger has ignored the local space industry, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has been leading successful efforts for several years to attract mojave space businesses to his state.

Witt said his counterpart in New Mexico has recruited two of the three Mojave-based space businesses he has actively went after. Representatives from New Mexico were up and down the Mojave Airport/Spaceport tarmac during the Ansari X-Prize events in 2004, which Schwarzenegger also snubbed.

Witt said Virgin Galactic will launch SpaceShipTwo on regular flights from a new spaceport under construction in a remote part of New Mexico. Richardson has pumped millions of state dollars into the venture. The Rocket Racing League has also chosen the New Mexico venue for its initial races, Witt noted. "They built two brand-new hangars," Witt said.

While Schwarzennegger and his staff have ridiculed incentives for California companies as a "race to the bottom", he is proposing financial incentives to a small Northern California company that builds electric automobiles. The need for these incentives came to light when Schwarzenegger, who has ordered one of the cars, learned that Tesla Motors is being actively recruited by officials in New Mexico.

Legislation to provide these same incentives to the space industry was dumped by the Democrat-dominated state senate.

Above left: Sir Richard wades into a crowd of Scaled Composites employees who have gathered underneath WK2, to thank them for their hard work. Right:The man behind the machine.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

This is great Alan. You are a great photographer.

Anonymous said...

I grew up thinking that that actor was just awesome. Clearly he's not as bright I was lead to believe. Those New Mexico officials are sure smart though!

Anybody else noticing that WK2 looks like two daschund pooches held together with a paint stick? LOL, seriously though it is one striking aircraft... Can't wait to see it flying!

Anyone know why Burt Rutan was wearing a Virgin Galactic logoed shirt?

Anonymous said...

On the EAA website reporting the story of the WK2 rollout, James Wynbrandt writes that WK2 will be at AirVenture 2009 and, "...when ready..." will launch a suborbital flight from AirVenture...in 2010???

Great photos as always and a great blog. A fun and enjoyable site.

Alan Radecki said...

For Peter...the entire event was a Virgin production, which is why Burt was wearing the shirt. The rest of the Scaled team were wearing "VMS EVE 2008" shirts. A few were wearing ones that, on the back, said "Space is Virgin territory". Now that's cheeky!

What I thought interesting is that Buzz Aldrin was there, but in an interview with a few members of the media said that he really wasn't interested in going on SS2. I guess "been there, done that", right?

Anonymous said...

in case you space fanboys did not notice, there is a budget problem here in California, and the governor has better things to do than support a rollout of a big airplane.
Furthermore, we have not heard the last of the investigation of the accident, and until that is complete, progress on the rocket engine will be slow.
Finally, now Scaled is part of Northrop grumman, which is not a big fan of risky projects.
All this hype may add up to nothing, al little skepticism wouldn't hurt.

Alan Radecki said...

With all due respect, consider this: The Virgin Galactic contract has pumped a lot of money from outside of California into our local economy. Scaled has doubled its workforce, meaning that the amount of money that this company and its employees have paid in state income tax (not to mention sales tax that the employees have also then paid in the course of their every day lives) has also doubled. Maybe if more folks would look at that angle, that we need to have the Governator help boost the business, then that will only add to the state's revenue. You don't solve budget issues by encouraging businesses to make their homes - and pay their taxes - in other states like New Mexico!