Thursday, 24 May 2012

Mojave Airport & Spaceport

The Mojave Airport & Spaceport (also known as the Civilian Aerospace Test Center), is located in Mojave, California, at an elevation of 2,791 feet. It was the first facility to be licensed in the United States for horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft, being certified as a spaceport by the Federal Aviation Administration on June 17, 2004. It is the only spaceport from which there have been privately-funded human spaceflights.
Besides being a general-use public airport, The Mojave Airport & Spaceport has three main areas of activity: flight testing, space industry development, and aircraft heavy maintenance and storage.

Flight testing

Flight testing activities have been centered at Mojave since the early 1970s because of the lack of populated areas surrounding the airport. It is also favored for this purpose due to its proximity to the Edwards Air Force Base, where the airspace is restricted from ground level to an unlimited height, and where there is a supersonic corridor. Mojave is also the home of the National Test Pilot School.

Space Industry Development

Beginning with the Rotary Rocket program, Mojave became a focus for small companies seeking a place to develop space access technologies. Mojave Spaceport has been a test site for several teams in the Ansari X Prize, most notably SpaceShipOne, which conducted the first privately funded human sub-orbital flight on June 21, 2004. Other groups based at the Mojave Spaceport include XCOR Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Orbital Sciences Corporation, and Interorbital Systems.
On December 6, 2007, the Antelope Valley Press reported that Mojave Spaceport was in danger of losing the "spaceport" designation by the end of 2007. The Federal Aviation Administration v gave notice to spaceport officials of its intention to suspend or revoke the space launch site operator's license on December 31. The FAA's actions are a result of concerns of the Office of Commercial Space Transportation regarding the storage and handling the related chemicals and explosives at the airport.

Aircraft heavy maintenance and storage

The Mojave airport is also known as a storage location for commercial airliners. Numerous large Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed, and Airbus aircraft owned by major airlines are stored at Mojave. Some aircraft reach the end of their useful lifetime and are scrapped at Mojave, while others are refurbished and returned to active service.
The Mojave Airport was first opened in 1935 as a small, rural airfield serving the local gold and silver mining industry. In July, 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps took over the field and vastly expanded it as the Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station (MCAAS) Mojave. Many of the Corps' WWII aces received their gunnery training at Mojave. With the end of WWII, MCAAS was disestablished in 1946, and became instead a U.S. Navy airfield. At the end of 1953, the USMC reopened MCAAS Mojave as an auxiliary field to MCAS El Toro. In 1961, after the USMC transferred operations to MCAS El Centro, Kern County obtained title to the airport. In February, 1972, the East Kern Airport District was formed to administer the airport; EKAD maintains the airport to this day.

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