Mojave Spaceport Governing District Changes Its Name

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

After 41 years, the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) will soon become just a memory.

The district’s Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to adopt the name of the airport it operates. The district will be know as the Mojave Air and Space Port beginning on Jan. 1, 2013.

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Mojave Spaceport Looks for NASA, Student Interns

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

NASA Dryden is looking to place one of its employees at the Mojave Air and Space Port for six to 12 months to learn how the private sector space community operates.

The placement would be made under a NASA program that details promising employees at companies and other organizations to give them broader business and management expertise, said Mojave spaceport CEO Stu Witt. The space agency would cover the salary of the employee while he or she is working on assignment in Mojave.

“We interpret that as an enormous vote of confidence that we’re doing something right,” Witt told the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) Board of Directors on Tuesday.

Witt said he has had several discussions about the placement with officials at the NASA field center, which located at nearby Edwards Air Force Base. He said he hoped to have an agreement to present to the EKAD board at its next meeting.

In a related development, the Mojave spaceport is looking to recruit some summer student interns. Karina Drees, the spaceport’s director of business development, will be attending the SpaceVision 2012 conference in Buffalo this week. The three-day event is being sponsored by Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).

The spaceport is spending $2,000 as a sponsor of the conference. Drees told the EKAD board that the sponsorship will give her access to students attending the event.

Mojave Spaceport Board Shaken Up in Election


The leadership of the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) Board of Directors, which oversees the Mojave Air and Space Port, will undergo a shakeup as a result of Tuesday’s elections. The official results are below. (I is for incumbent.)

EAST KERN AIRPORT DIRECTOR – Vote For 3
Completed Precincts: 13 of 13
VOTE COUNT
PERCENTAGE
DICK RUTAN (I)
2225
27.29%
ALLEN L. PETERSON
2093
25.67%
CATHY HANSEN (I)
2065
25.33%
JIM BALENTINE (I)
1747
21.43%

So, what this means, in summary, is:

  • Incumbent Dick Rutan was re-elected with the highest number of votes.
  • Incumbent Jim Balentine, a 17-year member of the board who currently serves as president, is out because he came in fourth.
  • Challenger Allen Peterson, president and CEO of the National Test Pilot School, is in after polling second.
  • Cathy Hansen, who resigned from the board last month for personal reasons but remained on the ballot, was re-elected for a term she will not serve.

Hansen’s resignation leaves a seat open that the EKAD board can fill without having a special election. So, it is possible that Balentine could be appointed to fill that position.

Mojave Space Port Board Authorizes Expenditures for Pool Building Upgrades

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The East Kern Airport District Board of Directors has authorized Mojave Air and Space Port officials to spend up to $600,000 on improvements to Building 137, otherwise known as the pool building.

The funds will pay for interior wood refurbishing, a fire suppression system, heating and air conditioning, two restrooms, insulation, electrical work, and permits. This work is estimated to cost $460,000, with a management reserve of $140,000, according to information provided to board members last week.

The spaceport is renovating the structure to be used for large events and gatherings. Currently, the desert facility lacks any large, enclosed buildings in which to hold such activities. Plans call for the facility to be used by the airport and its tenants.

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Mojave Space Port Moves Ahead with Extensive Improvements Program

To boldly go…. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The Mojave Air and Space Port is making a series of infrastructure improvements designed to enhance services for existing tenants and users and to lure new companies to the High Desert test center.

The projects include improvements to two of the airport’s three runways, the extension of utilities to new areas, the installation of high-speed Internet services, and the development of a large building for meetings and special events.

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Busy Mojave Spaceport Moves to 7-Day-Week Operations

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

During the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) meeting on Tuesday, one of the board members asked Stu Witt how busy things are at the Mojave Air and Space Port these days.

“Do you see my eyes?” the spaceport’s CEO and general manager replied.

Witt had been up early that day to help support Scaled Composites’ latest drop test of the SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle. He was there to watch the spacecraft glide to a landing at 8:04 a.m. PDT, a time when most people aren’t even at work yet. The tower controller and firefighters had also turned out early to support the test flight.

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Mojave Becomes the Global Expert in Spaceports


By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The Mojave Air and Space Port has developed a profitable consulting business: advising other groups about how to build and operate their spaceports.

Officials from the California spaceport have provided advice to spaceport operators in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Sweden and the Caribbean island of Curacao, said Mojave CEO Stuart Witt.

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Virgin Group’s Alex Tai to Set Up Shop in Mojave

The hangar where Alex Tai's company will house its jets was the site of a robotics competition last Saturday. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

A company led by the Virgin Group’s Director of Special Projects Alex Tai is the Mojave Air and Space Port’s newest tenant.

Last week, the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors authorized Mojave Air & Space Port CEO Stu Witt to finalize a lease for Tai’s company, Super Sonic Jet, Inc., of Nevada. Tai plans to house a small fleet of Eastern Bloc fighters in Building 70, a hangar adjacent to the airport’s Administration building.

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Scaled Composites to Hold Open House, Jobs Fair in Mojave

by Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Scaled Composites will hold an open house and jobs fair during the Mojave Air and Space Port’s Plane Crazy Saturday event on April 21. East Kern Airport District Board member Cathy Hansen announce the Scaled open house during a meeting of the board on Tuesday.

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Mojave Airport Expansion and Spring Spruce Up….In Pictures

This welcome sign on the north end of town is a bit dated. Hopefully sometime in the next year, they can replace with a picture of SpaceShipTwo. Or maybe the Lynx. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

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.

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Mojave Makers Gets Lease, Sets April 10 for Open House

Building 82, future home of the Mojave Makers. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

On Tuesday, the East Kern Airport District board approved a lease with the Space Studies Institute for a storage building at the Mojave Air and Space Port that is being renovated into a maker space. SSI is serving as the lessee until the Mojave Makers, a group composed of employees of different airport tenants, can obtain its 501(c)3 non-profit status.

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Mr. Witt Goes to Sacramento as Mojave Begins Revitalization Effort

Mojave's runways. (Credit: Mojave Air and Space Port)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO and General Manager Stu Witt will be visiting Sacramento next week to lobby California lawmakers to provide regulatory relief and the types of incentives that other states have been providing to space companies.

Although Mojave is thriving as a aerospace research and development center, it has done so despite California ranking last among the states in terms of business friendliness, Witt said during a meeting of the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday. Obstacles include high taxes and a substantial regulatory burden.

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