Mojave To Become (Already Is?) First Civilian Spaceport
It's (almost) being used as one anyway, but the Mojave Airport in California is close to getting government approval to become the first private spaceport. SPACE.com reports that the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center will be certified as a non-federal spaceport to handle horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft -- specifically, like Scaled Composites' hen-and-chick creation that reached an altitude of 40 miles after taking off from Mojave about 10 days ago. SpaceShipOne (the aforementioned "chick"), which launches from the mother ship White Knight (the hen), is the odds-on favorite to win the $10 million X-PRIZE for development of a reusable spacecraft without government funding, but Scaled's team isn't Mojave's only tenant harboring celestial ambitions. XCOR Aerospace is also working on a space program (and has publicly demonstrated its rocket engine on a Long EZ fuselage), as are Orbital Sciences Corporation and Interorbital Systems. Mojave Airport Manager Stuart Witt said there are no issues to be settled in the licensing process and he expects the certificate soon. What happens after that has him even more excited. "I think it's going to be a wild ride the next 20 years as this industry emerges," he told SPACE.com.