Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…
“Koehn Lake”
The Future Just Ain’t What It Used To Be: Space Tourism Edition

On this date in 2004, Mike Melvill lit the candle on SpaceShipOne as soared into history as the first astronaut to fly a privately-built spacecraft to space. Fourteen years. It seems like only a lifetime ago. I was on the flight line that day (I’m the guy with the video camera) not far from where I write this today.  The excitement and optimism of that day — that feeling that […]

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  • June 21, 2018
Branson’s Autobiography Part II: A Bad Day at Koehn Lake

SpaceShipTwo breaks up after the premature deployment of its feather system. (Credit: MARS Scientific/NTSB)

Part 2 of 3

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography
Richard Branson
Oct. 10, 2017
482 pages

In his new book, Richard Branson recounts that on the morning of Oct. 31, 2014, he was on his private Caribbean island in a state of “schoolboy excitement.” The reason? Three time zones away in California’s Mojave Desert, Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites were conducting the longest and most ambitious flight test of the SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle.


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  • January 9, 2018
A Halloween Nightmare in Mojave

It was raining in the desert. It was coming down in buckets.

A cold, hard rain was slamming against the windows of the house. The first real rain since….I couldn’t even remember. That’s how rare rain is out here. Months and months go by with little or no rainfall.


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  • October 31, 2016
Mojave Journal: Weather Weather Everywhere
Stormy weather (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Stormy winter weather (Credit: Douglas Messier)

There’s an old saying in Mojave, which I actually made up last year, that we don’t really have weather out here, just temperatures and wind velocities. That’s largely true. Most days look pretty much like all the other days: sunny and clear with blue skies as far as the eye can see. Not for nothing did the High Desert become the premiere location for testing high-performance aircraft and rocket planes.


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  • March 12, 2015