Tuesday, November 27, 2012

XCOR in Midland, Texas!

I came across this information quite by accident while working down at the Midland International Airport (MAF) for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  A co-worker told me that "some space" company was coming to Midland.  But, since he wasn't "really into" that space stuff - he had no additional information for me.

Finally, once back home in Lubbock, Texas; I searched out that information and found the following...

There was a joint announcement by the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and XCOR Aerospace for the establishment of XCOR's new Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters to be completed in late 2013.  It will be housed in a newly renovated 60,000 square-foot hangar that will house their office space and test facility.

Quote:  XCOR will be upgrading an existing hangar at Midland International Airport,” stated Marv Esterly, director of airports at MAF. “This new R&D facility has the potential to open the door to even more economic development at our airport and for our community.” end quote.

Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer of XCOR Aerospace said the following:  “We are pleased to be establishing our R&D Center in Midland, Texas, where the weather, surrounding landscape, the airport, and the local & state government environment are ideally situated for the future growth and the ultimate realization of a fully reusable orbital system.  

"With future suborbital operational sites on the East and West Coasts of the United States and around the world, plus a manufacturing and test facility geographically separate from our R&D facility, Midland will truly be at the heart of XCOR’s innovation engine” end quote.

Pam Welch, executive director of MDC stated in the press release the following: “The decision to establish XCOR’s Research and Development Center Headquarters in Midland came after intense competition from other locations." end quote. She also added this: once the technical and operational needs of XCOR were met, the final factors influencing the decision to locate R&D to Midland included the friendly business climate, a predictable regulatory environment, and the State of Texas tort reform initiatives. These factors allowed XCOR to see a long term future happening in Midland.” end quote.

With XCOR coming to Midland, the City of Midland is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a Commercial Space Launch Site designation for MAF.  A process that is expected to take a year to 18 months to complete.  Once that is done, the XCOR operations will increase.

Marv Esterly stated the following, “When our application is approved, the MAF will be the first “Primary Commercial Service Airport” to be granted this designation, and the combination of the two makes Midland attractive to other commercial space companies.” end quote.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was very happy with XCOR's decision to set up shop in Midland.

Midland, Texas, is expecting XCOR Aerospace will create 100 jobs for the area.  That $12 million will be spent over the next five years in capital improvements and wages.  And with MAF being designated as a spaceport - that will attract other  commercial space companies who are developing horizontal takeoff and landing spacecraft.

The Lynx is a suborbital two-personal winged spacecraft designed to go up to 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface after taking off from a runway using a rocket engine.  Then, once the mission is completed, it will return to land at the same runway like a normal aircraft.

The spaceport in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, is a bit worried about being passed over by XCOR and a few other commercial space companies.

Quote from the Foxnews article follows:  Locally, officials blame the lack of new businesses on the legislature's refusal to pass laws that would exempt spacecraft suppliers from liability for passengers should the spacecraft crash or blow up. When New Mexico was developing Spaceport in partnership with Virgin Galactic, it passed a law to exempt the carrier through 2018, but not parts suppliers. Colorado, Florida, Texas and Virginia have adopted permanent liability exemption laws for both carriers and suppliers. 

The laws, called informed consent, are much like those that exempt ski areas from lawsuits by skiers, who waive their rights for claims when they buy a ski pass. Spaceport officials emphasize the carriers and suppliers would not be exempt from damage on the ground, or in cases of gross negligence. end quote.

1. XCOR Press Release. "XCOR AEROSPACE AND MIDLAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION ANNOUNCE ESTABLISHMENT OF XCOR’S NEW COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT R&D CENTER HEADQUARTERS" July 9, 2012. (http://www.xcor.com/press-releases/2012/12-07-09_XCOR_to_open_midland_resaerch_headquarters.html ).
2. news.yahoo.com. "XCOR Aerospace Announces Midland, Texas, R&D Headquarters" by Mark Whittington. July 9, 2012. (http://news.yahoo.com/xcor-aerospace-announces-midland-texas-r-d-headquarters-203100205.html).
3. Space.com. "" by Denise Chow. July 9, 2012. (http://www.space.com/16494-xcor-aerospace-texas-test-site.html).
4. Foxnews.com. "World's first spaceport nearly ready in New Mexico" by Patrick Manning. July 9, 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/09/24/world-first-spaceport-nearly-ready-in-new-mexico/).

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