“California can have either all the regulation or all the business, but it can’t have both.”
That was the message delivered to a high-level state official who visited the Mojave Air and Space Port last week to see what Sacramento can do to help keep the burgeoning commercial space industry from moving to other states with fewer regulations, lower taxes and financial incentives.
A company led by the Virgin Group’s Director of Special Projects Alex Tai is the Mojave Air and Space Port’s newest tenant.
Last week, the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors authorized Mojave Air & Space Port CEO Stu Witt to finalize a lease for Tai’s company, Super Sonic Jet, Inc., of Nevada. Tai plans to house a small fleet of Eastern Bloc fighters in Building 70, a hangar adjacent to the airport’s Administration building.
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO and General Manager Stu Witt will be visiting Sacramento next week to lobby California lawmakers to provide regulatory relief and the types of incentives that other states have been providing to space companies.
Although Mojave is thriving as a aerospace research and development center, it has done so despite California ranking last among the states in terms of business friendliness, Witt said during a meeting of the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday. Obstacles include high taxes and a substantial regulatory burden.
Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stu Witt describes the accomplishments from the past year and looks ahead. Some interesting bits of news: an initiative to open up more of the facility for rocket testing; an effort to revitalize the town of Mojave; and collaborative work with spaceports in Sweden and Curacao.
“In 2011 we began the process of designing a new rocket test facility on the east side of the airport that would require the movement of water, power, sewer and natural gas under our primary runway, which in itself will now open thousands of acres for development on the east side….
“At a very local level, one thing that several of our tenants have identified as a critical need in Mojave is revitalization of the town of Mojave. So we have partnered now on starting an initiative with the Chamber of Commerce to begin a revitalization plan, no different than what the community did in Tehachapi and just made a remarkable difference in the lifestyle in Tehachapi. It helps so many ways. It helps with recruitment of the talent and workforce required to carry out your mission. It helps with retaining those people by providing a livable lifestyle in their own community.”
Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stuart O. Witt is the general manger of the Mojave Air and Space Port is co-author of a nice op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle about NASA’s new direction:
The Obama administration, Congress, NASA and the private sector are finally voyaging toward a market-based space industry. Admittedly, the new policy’s vision is not bold enough nor its exploration schedule aggressive enough, but it does – as the Great One advised – “skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.”
It dismantles a cost-plus quagmire that has left Americans traveling in space far less often, far less safely, at far greater expense and, most ironically, not so very far at all. Much must be done to maintain U.S. space leadership, but privatization is absolutely required.
A report from KGET-TV on the groundbreaking for the Spaceship Company’s production facility in Mojave, Calif. This also includes a discussion of why Virgin Galactic will fly commercially out of New Mexico and not California. (Hint: $$$$$!!!)