TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, New Mexico -- The CEO of New Mexico’s commercial spacecraft launch facility has been placed on administrative leave amid an investigation, but state officials aren’t saying why.
Dan Hicks was recently placed on leave, according to New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes.
She chairs the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s board of directors. However, Keyes did not provide any details.
Hicks told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper that he was placed on leave because of a "whistleblower complaint." He added: “I don’t even know what it’s about.”
Hicks 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, which was initially constructed in Sierra County between 2006 and 2012 with $220 million in public funding.
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.