The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Susan Wiggins
Mayor Pro Tempore 

GAVEA in Mojave

A Page of History


The Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance held its quarterly meeting in Mojave recently so its members could get a current look at what is happening in East Kern County.

In addition to reports given concerning the Golden Queen mine just south of Mojave, the Test Pilots School located on the Mojave Spaceport, and The Spaceship Company, Bill Deaver Vice President of the Mojave Spaceport Board of Directors, delivered an update on what is current at that facility.

I chose to feature Deaver’s report because no matter how many times I have written about that facility (even when it was “just” Mojave Airport) there is always something new, innovative, and exciting happening there. This time is no exception.

All the times I have written about the airport, I always thought that the airport was created by the Marines in 1942. Come to find out it was originally created as an airport in 1935 by Kern County to transport gold from the nearby Golden Queen Mine.

In 1942 the Navy acquired the airport and built a Marine Corps Air Base to train pilots in gunnery skills to fight the Japanese in WWII. During the Korean War, pilots had to fight another enemy and learned how to fly newly created jet fighters.

Now on to the exciting parts – the airport now has 19 rocket test sites on the north side of property. There are more rocket engine tests done there than any place on the planet.

There are several high-tech industries on the airport – 70 percent of the businesses on the airport are in the aerospace field.

Half of the aerospace customers are in the “new space” industry. The airport is located adjacent to the community of Mojave and promises good weather for flying most of the year. The air space over Mojave is part of the R2508 controlled airspace which serves the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, China Lake, and Palmdale Airport. That airspace is one of the key reasons why space customers enjoy testing in Mojave.

The airport is also home to the UPS Distribution Center, and Progress Rail, which operates its own locomotive that is available to airport tenants. The airport’s railroad was built in 1942 by the Navy, and is scheduled to be updated soon to handle modern six-axle diesel locomotives.

There are other businesses engaged in manufacturing, industry, and small businesses, located in the airport’s industrial park.

The airport gained worldwide recognition in 1986 when the Voyager aircraft was designed and built there by Burt Rutan and flown around the world by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. It was the first nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world.

During the flight, when it looked like it was going to make it all the way, my brother Bill called me in Mojave, from D.C. and told me to hightail it out to the command center on the airport and tell all of them to get off the phones because President Ronald Reagan was trying to call and say congratulations. I walked in and no one even gave me a second look in until I said loudly “The President is trying to call you!” Phones were all hung up and I went home.

The Mojave Airport was granted a spaceport license in June 2004 to accommodate the Scaled Composites Spaceship One flights.

In October 2004 Scaled Composites won the $10 million Ansari X Prize after flying the first reusable commercial spaceship.

Mojave Spaceport was indeed on the map. The Spaceport offers its tenants the ability to stay focused on production and operations. Failures and successes are both celebrated there as innovators learn and grow.


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