September 27, 2015 – Mojave Air and Space Port

 

On our way to St. George, Utah we do a fly-by (so to speak) of the Mojave Air and Space Port. It is Sunday so everything is pretty quiet. In fact there is only one other car around and they are taking pictures just like we are.

According to Wikipedia the Mojave Airport was built in 1935 to serve the gold and silver mining industry. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, it was taken over by the Marines. Until 1961 it passed among several different branches of the military and then Kern County obtained the title. Today, besides being a general-use airport, Mojave Air and Space Port has flight testing, space related industry and development, and aircraft maintenance and storage.

The entrance to the airport is flanked by a sign and a retired DC-8.

Welcome to Mojave Air and Space Port
Welcome to Mojave Air and Space Port
DC-8
DC-8

One of the companies operating at the airport is Orbital ATK which is in the space launch, propulsion, satellites and armaments business. They have an L-1011 based there.

Orbital ATK L-1011
Orbital ATK L-1011

Rotary Rocket Company, a former rocketry company, also has a building in Mojave. They developed a novel engine design and made test flights in 1999 but ran out of money in 2001.

Rotary Rocket Company building
Rotary Rocket Company building

The best known aerospace company operating at the airport is Scaled Composites, winner of the Ansari X Prize in 2004 for its experimental spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. The company was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2007.

This way to space!
This way to space!

Mojave Air and Space Port also houses the International Flight Test Institute and the National Test Pilot School.

International Flight Test Institute
International Flight Test Institute
National Test Pilot School
National Test Pilot School

In addition to all this neat stuff, it also operates as a jet storage facility and graveyard. When we came through here shortly after 9-11, the desert area was packed with jets in storage. Now there are many fewer as the aeronautic industry has recovered.

Stored aircraft
Stored aircraft

There is also aircraft junk lying around like these old shells of fighter cockpits.

Fighter cockpits
Fighter cockpits

Finally after twelve years of driving through Mojave we take the time to stop and see what is going on here at the Mojave Air and Space Port. I am glad we did.

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