Mojave Moments: What Really Keeps the Spaceport in Operation

What is it that keeps the Mojave Air and Space Port operating?

Is it Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo? Paul Allen’s monster rocket launching airplane they call Birdzilla? Mojave’s amazing amenities and it warm, welcoming atmosphere that lead people to call it the Mayberry of the West?

Uhhh….no. Not even close.

It’s the last thing one would expect in conservative, oil-rich, get government off our back and let us do our own thing Kern County, the Texas of California.

Popular Science Pays a Visit to Mojave

Sunset from the Mojave Air and Space Port, Oct. 30, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Sunset from the Mojave Air and Space Port, Oct. 30, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Popular Science sent Sarah Scoles to Mojave to check out the place. It’s always hard to parachute into a town and completely understand what it’s about, but she does good job of capturing how the sky high ambitions of the spaceport and its billionaire backers contrast with the dilapidated and sometimes desperate state of the town that adjoins it.

Science Takes Off: What Happens When The Space Industry Collides With A Tiny Town?


Mojave Sightings: Pancho’s Rodeo

Pancho's Rodeo (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Pancho’s Rodeo (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Gone but certainly not forgotten.

A poster for a rodeo held at Pancho Barnes Happy Bottom Riding Club hangs in Stoken Donuts & Deli in Mojave.

Bold Plan Proposed to Overhaul Mojave

Artist concept of Mojave Air and Space Port terminal.
Artist concept of Mojave Air and Space Port terminal.

A detailed plan to turn the Mojave Air and Space Port from a dusty flight and rocket test center into a destination for researchers and tourists alike is making the rounds in the state capital of Sacramento.

The plan, created by the Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) Hub at El Camino College, includes the development of passenger terminal at the spaceport, research park, business incubator, special economic zone, space-based education center, and a desert botanical garden.


My Appearance on the John Batchelor Show Tonight

The John Batchelor Show
The John Batchelor Show

I will be appearing on the John Batchelor Show this evening from 6:30-6:45 p.m. PDT (9:30-9:45 p.m. EDT). We’ll be discussing Virgin Galactic and events here in Mojave with Dr. David Livingston, host of The Space Show, as part of the Hotel Mars segement.

For details on how to listen in live, visit the John Batchelor Show website.

Tax Exemption Measure Passes California Legislature

Credit: Steven Pavlov
Credit: Steven Pavlov

A measure that will provide spaceflight companies with a 10-year exemption from certain property taxes has passed the California Senate.

Senators voted 32-2 to approve the bill, which had already passed the Assembly by a 69-5 vote. The measure will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for signing if the Assembly agrees with the Senate’s amendments to it.

As amended by the Senate, the property tax exemption would apply to

Tangible personal property, whether raw materials, work in process or finished goods, that has, or upon manufacture, assembly, or installation has, space flight capacity, including, but not limited to, an orbital space facility, space propulsion system, space vehicle, launch vehicle, satellite, or space station of any kind, and any component thereof, regardless of whether that property is to be ultimately returned to this state.

Fuel of a quality that is not adaptable for use in ordinary motor vehicles, but is produced, sold, and used exclusively for space flight.

The exemption would last from the January 1, 2014 lien date until Jan. 1, 2024.

The measure was introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, whose district borders the one where SpaceX is located. A number of space companies in Mojave and across the state also will benefit.

Hey Mojavians! Do You Want Mojave to be a City?

Credit: Robin Snelson
Credit: Robin Snelson

For the past several decades, residents in the town of Mojave have had a very odd political status.

They can democratically elect for the directors of the Mojave Air and Space Port. However, no one (officially) lives on the airport, and the directors have no authority beyond the facility’s property line.

However, Mojave residents have no government of their own because they live in an unincorporated, census-designated community whose upkeep and services are provided by Kern County. They can only vote for county officials.

A group calling itself Mojave Together ( wants to chage that situation. It has called a meeting on Thursday, March 6, to discuss Mojave applying to the state to become a city.  The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in the Mojave Elementary School auditorium at 15800 “O” St.

A brochure that has popped up around town says the struggling town of 4,200 residents is too often ignored by Kern County. The group says the status of a city would help Mojave get its fair share of tax dollars and facilitate the election of accountable local officials.

U.S. Launch Companies at Crossroads in 2014

Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Part 2 of 2

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Editor’s Note: In Part 1, we took a look at the highly successful year that all three U.S. launch providers had in 2013.  Today, we will look at the challenges ahead for each company.

Coming off a stellar year, each of America’s three launch providers — Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) — finds itself in a distinctly different place and facing unique challenges. The coming year could begin to significantly remake the global launch market, with significant consequences for all three players and rival providers overseas.


Richard Branson a Little Confused About Where the Mojave Spaceport is Located

A majority of Virgin Galactic's future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. AT side is the WhiteKnight2 mated with SpaceShip2. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
About 300 of Virgin Galactic’s future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. AT side is the WhiteKnight2 mated with SpaceShip2. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Richard Branson says he had a great time visiting the Mojave Air and Space Port two weeks ago. If only he knew where it actually was:

On Sept. 25, Virgin Galactic hosted an annual customer gathering at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Arizona.


And he was just here two weeks ago. California gets no respect.

Some folks would probably prefer that the spaceport be part of Arizona or Nevada, states much more in tune with their philosophy of limited government and loose regulations. It’s a philosophy, by the way, that tends to fall apart once you step off the airport property into the rundown town of Mojave, an unincorporated community that has no local elected government of its own. In  a supreme irony, local residents elect a board to govern the very well managed spaceport, while their own needs are left to a county government located 60 miles (100 km) on the other side of the Tehachapis.

But, enough about all that. For better or worse, the Mojave Air and Space Port remains in California.

Video: I Talk About Mojave on Spacevidcast

Video Caption: In Season 6 Episode 12 of Spacevidcast Live we take a look at all the NewSpace companies located in Mojave and what they are up to! Doug Messier of walks us through that exciting area.

In Space News we have Orbital nominally launching their Antares rocket, SpaceX Grasshopper jumps 250m and lands smoothly and the wraps come off Atlantis!

Don’t forget about the show after the show! Spacevidcast continues with After Dark, a special feature only available to epic subscribers. Starting at $10/mo or $100/yr Spacevidcast Epic offers gigs and gigs of exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else! Help Spacevidcast continue to produce shows and sign up today at

Mojave Marathon Set for Sunday, April 21

Mojave_marathonWhat: The Mojave Marathon
When: April 21, 2013
Time: 8 a.m.
Where: Gather at the baseball park in Mojave by the Belshaw entrance to the airport (this will also be the finish line)


A few people in Mojave ran this marathon in 2012 and we have decided to run it again this year. It is a little longer than a standard marathon. Anyone is welcome to join in for the full marathon, half, run it as a relay team or bike – just come and have fun!

$25 to enter, which goes towards a T-shirt, marathon refreshment stations and beer for after the run. Any extra $ made from the event will go to the Mojave Revitalization Project.

For More Information

Email: [email protected]

Mojave Businesses to Get Funds for Facade Upgrades

Mojave businesses are now eligible for grants worth up to $10,000 to upgrade their building facades under a new Kern County program aimed at helping to revitalize the community.

The program will be unveiled at a business mixer next Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m. in the Mariah Country Inn on Business Route 58. The mixer, which is being sponsored by the Mojave Chamber of Commerce, will include light refreshments and drinks.


Revitalize Mojave Honored With Merit Award

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Kern COG PR) — Kern Council of Governments (COG) will honor 16 individuals, organizations and programs for making major contributions to this area’s quality of life through innovative, cooperative efforts during its 22nd annual Regional Awards of Merit Program on March 7, 2013.

Regional Awards of Merit recipients, as decided by a Kern COG Board subcommittee, are divided among nine broad categories and include:

Local Government: Revitalize Mojave citizen group for its unique private-public partnership and development of a new Vision Plan project that improves Mojave’s physical environment…

This is the 22nd year Kern COG has recognized those programs and people in our region whose ideas and hard work have made life in Kern County better for us all.

The awards banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 7, 2013 at the Petroleum Club on the 12th floor of the Stockdale Towers, 5060 Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield. Cost is $40 per person, which includes a dinner buffet.

Reservations are due by noon Tuesday, March 5, 2013 by calling (661) 861-2191 or emailing [email protected] . No money will be accepted at the door.

DLR Chairman Says “Nein” on EU Takeover of ESA

DLR Chairman Johann Dietrich Wörner

DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner has dismissed the idea that European Space Agency (ESA) needs to be brought under the wing of the European Union (EU) in order to improve cooperation between the two organizations.

The European Commission, the EU’s top body, has recommended several options that would bring the independent space agency under the control of the union.

In the following excerpt from his blog, Wörner rejects the idea, saying that the coordination problems between ESA and the EU can be handled without making such major changes, and that the entire debate is a distraction from far more important issues.


Stratolaunch Opens Production Facility in Mojave

The interior of the Stratolaunch production facility in Mojave. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

MOJAVE, CALIF. (Stratolaunch PR) — The Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, a Paul G. Allen project, announced the opening of their production facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port.