Sunday, June 27, 2010

Space race: Time to go 'all in'

The Denver Post this morning published one of the most honest paragraphs I've ever seen reported on its business page, and it ought to spur state officials into action. (Photo credit:

Ann Schrader, reporting on New Mexico's spaceport, which is still under construction, wrote this about the Colorado space industry:

"Insiders also point to Colorado's shortcomings, such as a lack of proactive leadership, funding erosion in the higher-education system, a congressional delegation with a dearth of seniority and an unfavorable space business climate caused by tax disincentives, looming ballot issues and TABOR amendment restrictions."

Hooray for honest reporting!

Schrader also quoted Tom Clark, the state's premier economic developer, lackadaisically excusing those shortcomings as the product of a state government not being willing to support the industry "with state moneys." Clark went on to say that it's too late now to build a spaceport in Colorado because the New Mexico facility is too close.

He's right about that, but the attitude he takes doesn't seem apologetic enough to me for the state's having missed a great opportunity.

Clark is also right about Colorado's space industry building itself into the third largest aerospace state in the nation -- unassisted but for federal dollars -- by creating a space village of small companies that stretch from Fort Collins to Pueblo along I-25.

The interstate will be the quickest access to the space port once it gets going -- unless, of course, state and federal leaders decide a north-south, high-speed bullet train for Colorado would finally be feasible if New Mexico is brought into the mix.

That's "thinking ahead," as my father use to tell me. And that kind of thinking could make up for the hands-off treatment Colorado has had toward its space-niks all these years.

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