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Virgin Agrees To Pay Spaceport Rent

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Sir Richard Branson gives the thumbs up in front of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, the world's first commercial spacecraft for tourists  (Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Sir Richard Branson gives the thumbs up in front of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial spacecraft for tourists (Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic says it will start paying New Mexico rent on the nearly quarter-billion dollar Spaceport the state built for Richard Branson’s space tourism business, but the company is doing so under protest and without waiving its right to walk away from the project.

According to letters obtained by The Associated Press, Virgin Galactic says the state has not finished the work necessary to trigger activation of its $1 million-a-year rent. And it says if the work is not complete by March 31, it may stop paying or give notice to terminate its lease.

New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson says the state’s obligations have been met. She has requested a meeting with the company.

The dispute comes after Virgin expressed concerns about the state’s inability to attract more business to the project.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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