I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.
I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….
So, have at it! Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!
MOJAVE, Calif. – Troubled XCOR Aerospace, a pioneer in reusable rocket engine technology, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court on Wednesday, according to court documents.
The filing will lead to the liquidation of the 18-year old company, whose engine technology was designed to power the two-person Lynx suborbital space plane XCOR was building. The vehicle, which was designed to take off and land on a runway, was only partially completed before most work on it stopped last year.
Despite laying off its 21 remaining employees, XCOR Aerospace isn’t dead yet. But, it’s not in real good shape, either.
It turns out that a major blow to the company was the loss of a contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to develop an upper stage for the Vulcan booster.
The primary impetus for the layoffs, Acting CEO and XCOR Board member Michael Blum told me, is the loss of a contract for engine development that the company had with United Launch Alliance. “The proceeds should have been enough to fund the prototype of Lynx [the company’s planned spacecraft], but ULA decided they’re not going to continue funding the contract. So we find ourselves in a difficult financial situation where we need to raise money or find joint developments to continue.” ULA declined to comment. (more…)
MIDLAND, Texas (MDC PR) – The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and LeoLabs, Inc., celebrate the completion of the Midland Space Radar facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Construction of the Midland Space Radar began in September 2016 and was completed in February 2017.
MIDLAND, Texas, September 13, 2016 (MDC PR) – The Midland City Council and the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) approved two agreements with LeoLabs, Inc., a company offering space debris tracking services.
The city of Midland has executed a License Agreement regarding city-owned property for the use of LeoLabs.
The MDC has entered into a promotional agreement with LeoLabs, Inc., which will include advertising and publicizing for the City of Midland for the purpose of developing new and expanded business enterprises.
MIDLAND, Texas (MDC PR) – The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and The Midland City Council approved an agreement wherein the MDC will fund The University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) for the research and development of a concentration in aeronautical engineering.
The funds provided by the MDC will be contributing to the development of a new aeronautical engineering program at UTPB for an aerospace faculty member and the development of laboratories. The funds are also targeted to develop and maintain specific Bachelor-Degree academic programs that facilitate new and existing industrial and aerospace development.
The Midland Development Corporation and XCOR have struck a deal relating to the company’s hangar in Texas.
XCOR agreed to give Hangar A — or half of the building XCOR occupies at the Spaceport Business Park — back to the city. The more than 40,000-square-foot space would cost about $7.5 million to build, which is the same amount of tax revenue that MDC gets in one year.
XCOR will also pay $6,000 a month to lease its remaining half, or Hangar B.
In exchange, the MDC passed an agenda item reimbursing XCOR for about $795,500 for improvements to Hangar A…
(XCOR has) come to the conclusion that they basically had more space than they really needed at this point,” said Robert Rendall, MDC board member. “At the same time, we had prospects that are interested in coming to the Spaceport business park, so it was just a good opportunity for us to relook at their needs and our needs and possibly provide space for other companies that wanted to come in without having to build them a building right now.”
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.
The complex features three chambers — a vacuum system, an observation room and safety support systems — according to a presentation made by co-developers Holder Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters. Two of the chambers will be used to test the space suits that Orbital Outfitters are custom-building for XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx space vehicle.
Wall Breaking Ceremony Marks Start of Hangar Renovations
Midland, Texas, August 15, 2014 (XCOR PR) —At 10am this morning,just feet from the runway which will rocket XCOR® Lynx®customers to space and back, Midland Development Corporation and XCOR Aerospace® invited local officials, contractors, Midland residents and local press to attend the kickoff of new renovations on the XCOR hangar with a ceremonial wall breaking inside of XCOR’s Commercial Spaceflight Research and Development Center Headquarters at Midland International Airport (MAF).
MIDLAND, Texas (MDC PR) – The Midland Development Corporation approved an agreement with Orbital Outfitters for the location of their Space Pressure Suit Manufacturing and Development business at the Midland International Airport (MAF).
The construction of the new building, on approx. 2 acres of land at MAF, will completed by December 2015. The building will include an altitude chamber complex to support the testing and qualification of space and pressure suits, small space systems and components testing and flight crew training operations and will be made available for use by UTPB.
Orbital Outfitters specializes in the design, development, and manufacturing of space and pressure suits, with a secondary line of business focusing on the production of full-scale space vehicle mockups. The company works closely with XCOR Aerospace, whose new R&D Center will be located on the flight line at MAF in a soon-to-be renovated ~60,000 sq. ft. hangar testing and office facility.
There’s a report out of Midland, Texas about plans for Los Angeles-based spacesuit manufacturer Orbital Outfitters to move there:
This week Midland Development Corp. approved a nearly $7 million agreement which will permit Orbital Outfitters to manage and operate a $3.2 million altitude chamber facility, which MDC will own. According to news reports, the board will also provide the firm with an incentive of $2.2 million to construct its headquarters in the Lone Star State city, along with $1.5 million to assist in its relocation from California.
The agenda for MDC’s meeting on Jan. 24 lists three measures concerning Orbital Outfitters: an economic agreement, the lease of a two-acre tract at the Midland International Airport by the city of Midland, and a sublease of that tract to the company. No details are provided.
Orbital Outfitters will join XCOR Aerospace, which has an agreement with Midland to move its research and development facility to the West Texas city. Lee Valentine, who is one of XCOR’s lead investors, also is a co-founder of Orbital Outfitters.