By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor
Spring has come to Mojave at last. And with it this season of renewal has come clear skies, warm temperatures and snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. (“I hate snakes! I hate ’em!” — Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark. I love that movie.)
But, I digress. This is a busy time at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Let’s take a look at what’s up in the desert.
The second Boeing 747 for the Stratolaunch project has arrived. Here it is sitting in front of the Scaled Composites hangar on Plane Crazy Saturday last week. Like the first aircraft, it is a 747-422 with 495 seats that was delivered to United Airlines in 1997. It will be stripped for engines, landing gear and other parts.
Meanwhile, the first of two Stratolaunch buildings is being constructed on the other end of the airport. The humongous aircraft will have a wingspan of 385 feet and will reportedly come within 18 feet of the control tower when it rumbles down the runway.
Here’s another look at the structure, with the company’s first 747 behind it in front of the BAE Systems hangar. BAE is disassembling both aircraft.
Building 82 is being renovated for the Mojave Makers, a new group formed by employees of the airport’s tenants. The maker space will house equipment that members can use to work on their own projects during off hours. The facility will provide a place for people working at the airport to hang out and create a sense of community that is largely missing at the desert spaceport.
Airport CEO Stu Witt and the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors have been very supportive of the project, authorizing $25,000 in improvements to the storage building and providing generous lease terms, including a six-month rent abatement. The Mojave Makers will be doing interior renovations, including putting up dry wall and painting.
Airport officials see the maker space as part of a larger effort to make Mojave a better place to live and work. Other measures include providing fiber optic communications services and the possible lease of a business jet for use by airport officials and tenants. Airport officials are working with the Mojave Chamber of Commerce to revitalize the town of Mojave.
As buildings are built and renovated around the airport, another one is coming down. ASI, Inc. workers are removing the roof and asbestos from Building 107 under a $33,200 contract. Once that work is done, the building will be leveled to the ground in a controlled burn. This will give the spaceport a building lot in a prime location along the main access road, Airport Boulevard.
A small park with benches and artificial grass (the only kind that will survive in Mojave). Anyone notice how much the airport’s symbol resembles one used in a famous science fiction space show? No, not Battlestar Galactica! Lost in Space? Good God, no! Red Dwarf? Sheesh….