Spaceport America CEO placed on administrative leave
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The CEO of New Mexico’s commercial spacecraft launch facility has been placed on administrative leave, but state officials aren’t saying why.
New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes, who chairs the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s board of directors, confirmed Thursday that Hicks was on leave pending an investigation, but did not provide further details., the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.
Hicks did not immediately respond to a phone message.
He succeeded Christine Anderson, who served as the spaceport’s CEO from 2011 until her retirement.
Among Hicks’ responsibilities was strengthening a business model to sustain the spaceport initially constructed in Sierra County between 2006 and 2012 with $220 million in public funding. Besides its hangar and launch facilities outside of Truth or Consequences, the spaceport maintains administrative offices in Las Cruces.
Previously, Hicks served for 34 years at White Sands Missile Range, ultimately assisting WSMR’s commanding general and its executive director.
The spaceport’s anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, aims to launch its first commercial passengers into space this year. It has also welcomed additional aerospace companies as tenants, including SpinLaunch, AeroVironment, and Up Aerospace.
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