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Mojave Air & Space Port update

Short Flights

MASP Director of Operations

Mojave Air & Space Port (MASP) at Rutan Field has welcomed, Arielle Sewell, new Director of Operations. She previously worked for the City of Fresno with Airport Safety Management Systems and Airports Operations Manager.

She earned a MS in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with a focus in Aerospace Safety Program Management, a BS in Technical Management, as well as several certifications in SMS, emergency management, accident investigation and human factors.

MASP Runway 12-30 Upgrade

Work will begin on Runway 12-30 at Mojave Air & Space Port at the end of June 2023. Federal Aviation Administration grants were approved in 2021 and 2022. The first grant was for $5.9-million to strengthen the runway and the second grant was approved for $4.3-million for improvements. The FAA grant has requirements for nearly $478,000 match from the airport.

At a MASP Board meeting held in January of this year, CEO Tim Reid said, "Construction will take 68 days, with the contractor working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to minimize the impact on the airport tenants' operations."

"The rehabilitation will address the main, center section of the runway, which meets the FAA's standard of 150 feet wide. Mojave's runway, however, is a non-standard 200 feet wide. The FAA funding will cover only the standard width, leaving 25 feet on either side undone," Reid said. "I have been working extensively on this to find other funding sources."

Some of Mojave Air & Space Port tenants have to use runway 12-30 because they need the 12,500 feet of length it offers. Firms like Stratolaunch and Virgin Galactic will be dramatically affected by the runway closures.

Runway 12-30 will be closed on these dates:

Total expected closure time of runway: 42 days.

Expected construction phase dates, (subject to change):

May 30 – June 8:

• Runway rehabilitation work between RWY 8-26 and TWY J.

• RWY 12-30 closed. NOTAM will be issued to reflect closure.

June 9 – June 20:

• Runway rehabilitation work across RWY 8-26 and 4-22. NOTAMs will be issued to reflect closure 72 hours in advance for 4-22 and 8-26 closures.

• RWY 12-30 closed.

• RWY 8-26: 7 day closure time within this phase.

• RWY 4-22: 3 day closure time within this phase, will not be closed while 8-26 is closed.

June 21 – July 2:

• Runway rehabilitation work at the west and east ends of RWY 12-30.

• RWY 12-30 closed.

July 3 – July 31:

All runways reopened.

August 1 – August 7:

• RWY 12-30 closed for pavement markings.

• RWY 12-30 closed.

• Rolling closures of RWYs 4-22 and 8-26 anticipated as needed for painting.

Masten Space Systems acquired by Astrobotic in Sept. 2022

Masten Space Systems was founded in 2004 at Mojave Airport and was successful for 18 years, completing more than 600 vertical takeoff and landing (VTVL) rocket flights.

Two years ago the company was awarded a NASA contract, but the small business was over budget and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 1922. They were unable to raise funds or pay their employees.

According to an article in The Robot Report, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based company, Astrobotic, acquired Masten Space Systems along with its entire portfolio of advanced space technology developed over 18 years of operation for $4.5 million.

The article also stated, "The combined companies' more than 200 employees will continue operating in Pittsburgh, where Astrobotic is headquartered, and at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Astrobotic plans to maintain suborbital flight operations at Masten's testing sites at Mojave. It also plans to continue offering the space industry a testing site for hot fire rockets."

Dave Masten, founder and president of Masten Space Systems gave a quote to The Robot Report. "I started Masten with the goal of tearing down barriers to space. On behalf of the Masten team, I am excited to join Astrobotic in our shared mission to make space accessible to the world. This combined organization will let us continue to provide important services to our customers and help us make a bigger impact on humanity's future in space."

Plane Crazy Saturday still going strong

At the April 15, 2023 Plane Crazy, Phil Schultz, retired Chief Test Pilot for General Electric Aircraft Engines, gave an interesting talk about flight testing the GE-36 Unducted Fan engine (UUDF).

The first flight test was conducted on Aug. 20, 1986 at Mojave.

This prototype engine was flown on a Boeing 727 testbed aircraft 25 times from August 1986 to February 1987.

The sound to people standing on the ground was very unusual, as the two rows of carbon composite blades were contra rotating (turning in opposite directions) and the tips of the blades were supersonic when spinning at flying speeds. You felt it as well as hearing it as it flew past.

Schultz stated that the GE-36 was more fuel efficient by 50% compared to the stock engine on the 727 test aircraft. He also said that GE experimented with shorter blade lengths and number of blades for the rear set of blades.

He showed a short video of the 727 flying by so the audience could hear the odd sound it made.

He concluded his talk by saying that even though this engine was never put into production, all of the information gained during ground run testing and flying test hours, was retained and used in future engine designs, including the massive GE-90 engine that was used on the Boeing 777 airliner.

Many aircraft flew in for display as the weather was picture perfect! Many thanks to the California Highway Patrol Officer Blais and the CHP Senior Volunteers for setting up a display and handing out special goodies for the kids who attended Plane Crazy.

A special thanks to MASP Fire Chief Damien Farrar for his time explaining what it takes to be a fire fighter at the airport. Kids of all ages enjoyed hearing about the fire truck and how it works!

Next month at Plane Crazy Saturday, May 20, Roy Martin will give presentation entitled, "Technology and Tactics of Operation Linebacker I and II of the Vietnam Air War." Martin flew F-4s while serving in the United States Air Force in Southeast Asia.

He retired as Chief Test Pilot for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems West Region several years ago and is a retired Colonel USAF. He has over 45 years flying experience with over 10,800 flight hours in over 70 aircraft types. Don't miss his talk! Roy has great stories to tell.