What is it that keeps the Mojave Air and Space Port operating?
Is it Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo? Paul Allen’s monster rocket launching airplane they call Birdzilla? Mojave’s amazing amenities and it warm, welcoming atmosphere that lead people to call it the Mayberry of the West?
Uhhh….no. Not even close.
It’s the last thing one would expect in conservative, oil-rich, get government off our back and let us do our own thing Kern County, the Texas of California.
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Mark Sirangelo Craig Gravelle joined Chuck Beames of Vulcan Aerospace this morning at the International Aeronautical Conference in Toronto to discuss a plan to launch s downsized Dream Chaser via Stratolaunch Systems. (Vulcan Aerospace is owned by Paul Allen, who is financing Stratolaunch).
SPARKS, Nev., Sept. 30, 2014 – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for an integrated system for human spaceflight that can be launched to low Earth orbit (LEO) using Stratolaunch System’s air launch architecture and a scale version of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft.
Mojave Air & Space Port New Year’s Greeting By Stuart O. Witt
Happy New Year!
On January 1, 1914 America entered the commercial air service arena with a flight that lasted just a few minutes and carried one passenger sitting on a wood seat across a short distance in south Florida. Today millions of passengers will board commercial aircraft and statistically all will reach their destination safely, in large part because of the robust industry in which we are a central participant.
Things occurred in the first 100 years of commercial air travel that no one could have predicted 100, 80 or even 70 years ago. If you asked anyone in 1925, “Within the next 70 years will people board a pressurized aircraft powered by jet engines and be fed steak and lobster, watch the latest movies or television while talking via telephone to their home or office?” they would have laughed in your face. But it did happen and the quality of life for all people has grown exponentially with our industry.
ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 13, 2013 (ATK PR) — ATK (NYSE: ATK) has received a contract from Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) to provide first and second stage propulsion for the Air Launch Vehicle (ALV) that Orbital is designing and building for Stratolaunch Systems Corporation as part of a revolutionary air-launched space transportation system. The contract from Orbital includes the design, development and flight hardware for initial Stratolaunch missions.
MOJAVE, CALIF., March 27, 2013 (Stratolaunch PR) – Stratolaunch Systems today opened a new hangar that will eventually house the world’s largest aircraft during the assembly and testing stages, the aerospace development company announced.
The hangar opening brings Stratolaunch Systems one step closer to its goal of delivering a breakthrough air-launch system that provides safe, flexible, and affordable orbital access to space.
The 103,257-square-foot hangar is one of the two Stratolaunch facilities built at Mojave Air and Space Port to accommodate construction of the system’s carrier aircraft. The other Mojave facility, a 88,000-square-foot fabrication facility, opened in October 2012 and is currently used to manufacture the aircraft’s wing and fuselage sections. Both facilities were constructed by Bakersfield, Calif.-based Wallace and Smith General Contractors.
The carrier aircraft, developed by Stratolaunch partner Scaled Composites, will take off like a conventional plane before releasing the system’s rocket which will launch medium class payload to orbit. As the largest aircraft ever constructed, it will use six 747 engines, weigh more than 1.3 million pounds, and have a wingspan of more than 380 feet.
“Stratolaunch has made significant progress over the past year and a half, and the new hangar allows us to keep that momentum going so that we can hit our first test flight in 2016,” said Gary Wentz, CEO and President of Stratolaunch Systems.
Stratolaunch Systems, founded in 2011 by philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen, is based in Huntsville, Alabama.
Google Maps’ updated view of the Mojave Air and Space Port shows the Stratolaunch hangar under development (above). This image, taken some time ago, shows the roof being placed on the back end of the building (left) with beams for the front end’s walls already raised in place (right). Today, the rear roof has been completed. At the front of the building, the roof structure and parts of the exterior walls are now in place.
The image above shows Stratolaunch’s 88,000-square-foot production facility (left) and the unfinished hangar. The manufacturing facility was completed about three weeks ago and is now occupied by employees.