July 10, 2012
Credit: Credit: Guy Norris
HOUSTON — XCOR Aerospace, the 13-year-old Mojave, Calif.-based reusable launch vehicle development company, will establish a Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters in Midland, Texas.
XCOR plans to concentrate its West Texas activities, including advanced development of the winged, two-seat reusable Lynx suborbital rocket plane and an eventual reusable orbital spacecraft, in a refurbished 60,000-sq.-ft. hangar with office space as well as test facilities located on the flight line of the Midland International Airport.
XCOR and the Midland Development Corp. (MDC) announced the move on July 9. The announcement was set in motion through lease agreements and incentives approved earlier in the day by the development corporation and the Midland City Council.
“There will be plenty of smoke and fire, hopefully all coming out of the nozzle,” Jeff Greason, XCOR’s president and CEO, told a late afternoon teleconference from Midland.
The company envisions a gradual migration of personnel from its Mojave Air & Space Port offices to Midland along with 100 or so new hires, according to Greason and Andrew Nelson, XCOR’s chief operating officer. Mojave remains in the company’s long-term plans as a base for future Lynx commercial operations. The company plans future selections of East Coast and foreign operating bases as well, plus a hardware production site, the two men said.
As part of the strategic agreement, the City of Midland has started a Commercial Space Launch Site designation for the airport from FAA, an assessment process that is expected to require 12 to 18 months. Work on the hangar renovation and upgrade is expected to begin early next year and reach completion in the fall of 2013. The FAA designation and completed renovation are expected to signal the ramp-up of XCOR activities in Midland.
Midland will play a strategic role in XCOR’s growth plans. “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,” Nelson says.
The two-seat Lynx rocket plane is envisioned as a four-flight-per-day, commercially operated vehicle for scientific, engineering and Earth observation payloads.