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READY TO LAUNCH -- Josh House checks a bank of rockets during New... (J.R. Oppenheim/Daily News)

The New Mexico Museum of Space History held a press conference Saturday morning to announce an agreement with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, making the museum the new repository for future spaceport artifacts.

Rick Homans, New Mexico Secretary of Economic Development and chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, explained the commercial spaceflight industry leaves a good deal of debris, documents, and other materials that need to be preserved and kept for future generations.

He said bringing those artifacts to Alamogordo "helps prevent the loss of these materials and keeps that history here in New Mexico."

The announcement took place during the museum's Rocket Day activities. Scores of children came to learn how to build rockets and launch them. Homans felt this was a good way for "children to have a chance to experience launching a rocket and begin their own careers in space flight."

"Space has been the new frontier," said state Rep. Terry Marquardt. "It is important that we embrace that."

He said NASA is partnering with New Mexico State University to educate children about the space program. "Together, they are creating an entirely new paradigm for southern New Mexico," Marquardt said.

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president of the Otero County Economic Development Council felt it is a "natural progression" for the space museum to be chosen as the repository for spaceport artifacts, because "the space age started here in the Tularosa Basin."

He said commercial space flight, the X Prize Cup, and other spinoff events will bring opportunities to the area, including related businesses, tourism, and jobs.

The repository is "one of many roles Alamogordo and Otero County will play as the spaceport develops and matures," Homans said.

Marquardt sponsored legislation to obtain $99 million to fund Spaceport America.

"It was the legislature that was behind this and made it happen," Marquardt said. "When Spaceport America comes to southern New Mexico, the world will come to southern New Mexico ... This is what will create the jobs."

Homans, Mark Santiago, the director of the museum, and Lonnie Sumpter, executive director of the spaceport authority, each signed the joint agreement between the spaceport and the museum, officially making the museum the new repository for spaceport artifacts.

Homans presented Santiago with the first two artifacts to be housed at the museum. One was a picture of the launch team, who "played an instrumental role in the first launch at Spaceport America," Homans said.

The picture was put in the payload of the rocket and flew on the first launch. The second artifact was a book of procedures which "show every step of the way," Homans said. It records and documents each procedure taken right through the countdown, including the signature of each person who gave their approval at each step.

Before the conference ended, Homans announced there would be a new display at the museum in the near future 9 a replica of Spaceship One, the first privately financed vehicle to send humans into space.

"Spaceship One was the event that was the catalyst for all of this," Homans said. "Children will be able to see it and touch it."

Other dignitaries present at the event were Mayor Don Carroll; Rick Berry of the Space Hall Foundation; Josh Newport, of the X Prize Cup; and Mayor Pro Tem Ron Griggs.