MIDLAND, Texas (Press Release)—In a joint release today, the Midland International Airport, Midland Development Corporation, XCOR Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval of a Commercial Space Launch Site License (Spaceport) for the Midland International Airport (MAF). Midland International Airport is the first primary commercial service airport to be certified by the FAA under the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 420 as a spaceport and will furthermore be referred to as the Midland International Air & Space Port.
“It’s an important day for not only Midland, but the nation, as we see the private space sector becoming a vital part of our future economy,” said the Midland Development Corporation Board Chairman Robert Rendall. “The spaceport is co-located with our commercial airport which will allow Midland to attract additional aerospace companies to the community,” he said. As a region with a strong history in oil and gas productions, the pre-existing workforce skills are easily transferable to aerospace, aviation and their supporting industries.
XCOR President Andrew Nelson commented that, “For over a century Midlanders have been challenging frontiers and conquering world-changing innovations: the original Midland wildcatters to the now high-tech horizontal drillers; Jim Hall who revolutionized the automobile industry with his ground-breaking aerodynamic designs; and Leo Windecker who produced the first FAA-certified all-composite aircraft that influenced the way most aircraft are designed today.” The Midland International Air & Space Port is a significant part of that history and is home to many unique aviation and aerospace assets. Midland Mayor Jerry Morales said he is certain that, “The aerospace industry is critical to our economic diversity – innovation and breaking the mold have been, and will always be, embedded in our culture. Midland’s next frontier is space!”
The Midland International Air & Space Port worked closely with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation to obtain the spaceport License. Marv Esterly, Director of Airports, said, “The proximity of the airport to the spaceport allows us to take advantage of existing infrastructure which in turn lowers cost to the operators and offers us a competitive advantage over operations at remote locations.” The spaceport business model is to start small and expand as needed while leveraging existing facilities before building new ones in order to keep costs low for commercial space companies. Over the next few years Midland will work to adapt the current spaceport concept to accommodate other types of launch vehicles and the needs of aerospace companies as they arise.
XCOR Aerospace® was a pivotal partner in securing the spaceport License. The XCOR® Lynx®, a piloted, two-seat, fully reusable liquid rocket-powered spacecraft that takes off and lands horizontally, will rocket customers to space and back. XCOR’s Commercial Spaceflight Research and Development Center Headquarters will be one of the first tenants at the Midland International Airport & Space Port pending the renovations of an existing hangar. “When we began this process we knew that integrating spaceflight activities with scheduled air service was unprecedented. Given our experience in air and space integration in Mojave, CA, we were confident it could be done. Because everyone on the team has been careful to hold the process to a high standard, it has taken a lot of time and effort to get here—we knew that might happen, which is why this was the first thing we started when we made the decision to locate our research and development center in Midland. Now that the license has been issued we can get on with the next steps of completing the hangar renovations and developing all the procedures we will need to integrate spaceflight into airport operations and airspace,” said XCOR Chief Executive Officer Jeff Greason.
The growth of the new spaceport is already underway. Orbital Outfitters, a space suit manufacturing company with a secondary line of business focusing on the production of full-scale space vehicle mockups, is the latest company to announce their move to the Midland International Air & Space Port. “Orbital Outfitters is extremely excited to see the Midland spaceport achieve this milestone,” said Orbital Outfitters Chief Executive Officer Jeff Feige. Orbital Outfitters’ new spacesuit manufacturing and altitude chamber complex will be located on the field adjacent to XCOR and will be one of the premier facilities of its kind in the world. Midland is poised to be an incubator and a collaborative environment for the aerospace community and looks forward to welcoming new companies to town.
The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) incentivizes qualified employers who create and retain a diversified job market in the greater Midland, Texas, region. MDC promotes business expansion and job creation through an established business climate and a strong community. MDC is an effective steward of sales tax revenue to efficiently grow Midland’s economic stability and the quality of life. Learn more at www.midlandtxedc.com.
XCOR Aerospace® XCOR Aerospace® is based in Mojave, California. It is currently creating a Research and Development Center in Midland, Texas, and will be establishing an operational and manufacturing site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the assistance of Space Florida.
XCOR builds safer, more reliable and reusable rocket-powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and rocket piston pumps. XCOR works with aerospace prime contractors and government customers on major propulsion systems while also building the XCOR Lynx.
Lynx is a piloted, two-seat, fully reusable liquid rocket-powered spacecraft that takes off and lands horizontally. The Lynx family of vehicles serves three primary missions: research and scientific missions and private spaceflight in the Lynx Mark I and Lynx Mark II, and micro satellite launch on the Lynx Mark III. Lynx production models (designated Lynx Mark II) are designed to be robust, multi-mission (research/scientific or private spaceflight) commercial vehicles capable of flying to 100+ km in altitude, up to four times per day. Lynx production models are available to customers in the free world on a wet-lease basis for their own manned space flight programs. Learn more at www.xcor.com.
Orbital Outfitters is based in Hollywood, California. It is currently creating the Midland Altitude Chamber Complex (MACC), which will be the world’s most advanced human-rated commercial altitude chamber testing facility capable of testing real flight hardware in a near vacuum. Orbital Outfitters created the Industrial Suborbital Spacesuit (IS3) for the Lynx, which was the world’s first commercial spacesuit. Orbital Outfitters has provided suit work for various commercial space companies as well as for NASA. Orbital Outfitters also builds space vehicle mockups (such as the Lynx) for both promotional and engineering purposes. Learn more at www.orbitaloutfitters.com