The Mojave Airport is expected to be certified next month as spaceport to handle non-federal space missions of reusable spacecrafts. This article from SPACE.com says that the site is already home for several suborbital projects. For example, the SpaceShipOne from Scaled Composites or the EZ-Rocket from XCOR Aerospace are launched from the Mojave Airport. If you want to visit the future spaceport, please note it is also home of the Voyager Restaurant where you could eat a "SpaceShipOne" (ham and eggs) for $5.75. Just fly in to these coordinates: Lat. 35° 03.56' N, Long. 118° 09.11'W, Elev. 2791 feet.
Now, let's see the facts.
The Federal Aviation Administration's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) is expected next month to certify that the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center as a non-federal spaceport to handle horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft.
As such, Mojave Airport can offer a range of launch and landing services making it a hub for high-flying craft intended to help spark public space travel. The Mojave Airport is located approximately 100 miles north of Los Angeles, in southeastern Kern County, along the western edge of the Mojave Desert.
Here are some of the projects which are tested at Mojave Airport.
Most notably is Scaled Composites, builder and operator of the White Knight/SpaceShipOne piloted vehicles. XCOR Aerospace is also based at the Mojave Airport, engaged in testing its piloted EZ-rocket as part of an expansive reusable rocket engine and rocket-powered vehicle program. Other firms, such as Orbital Sciences Corporation and Interorbital Systems, are part of the space scene at Mojave Airport.
Mojave Airport is a leading civilian flight test center and is home to some of the most unique and exotic aircraft ever built. That includes the Voyager, the plane that made the first-ever, non-stop, unrefueled flight around the world. Its design was led by Burt Rutan, chief of Scaled Composites.
||Here is a photo of one Rutan's plane over a wind farm (Credit: Mojave Desert News).|
It took lots of time to fill all the government forms necessary to achieve the certification. Here is one of the last hurdles.
Running a spaceport also means keeping a watchful eye out for Gopherus agassizii. For those of you still living in your shell, thatís the desert tortoise, found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of southern California. This tortoise was listed as threatened under the California state Endangered Species Act in 1989.
"Ironically, at 300 takeoffs and landings a day, nobody asked us to ever do a tortoise check. But before I can clear a spaceship to land, I have to do a tortoise check of the primary runway," said Stuart Witt, Mojave Airport manager.
As I mentioned in the introduction, you can eat at the Voyager Restaurant, opened for breakfast and lunch.
You canít miss "Joudiís Crash Landing" featuring two poached eggs served on corn tortillas, topped off with mixed cheddar, jack cheese, and special Ranchero sauce.
Sources: Leonard David, SPACE.com, May 24, 2004; and various websites