The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and XCOR Aerospace jointly announced today the establishment of XCOR’s new Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters that will be created over the next eighteen (18) months. XCOR manufactures reusable rocket engines for major aerospace prime contractors and is the designer, manufacturer and operator of the Lynx, a winged fully reusable, high performance suborbital space vehicle that is designed to safely carry two persons or scientific experiments to the edge of space and back up to four times per day.
“This is a great day for Midland and a huge step forward for the State of Texas. Visionary companies, like XCOR, continue to choose Texas because they know that innovation is fueled by freedom,” Gov. Perry said. “Whether on the cutting edge of biotech, communications, commerce or privatized efforts to serve the needs of the next generation of space explorers, you can find Texas at the forefront of the movement.”
XCOR will be establishing their new R&D center on the flight line at Midland International Airport (MAF) in a newly renovated 60,000-square-foot hangar, which will include office space and a test facility. The renovation is expected to commence in early 2013, and be completed by the late autumn.
“XCOR will be upgrading an existing hangar at Midland International Airport,” stated Marv Esterly, director of airports at MAF. “This new R&D facility has the potential to open the door to even more economic development at our airport and for our community.”
“We are pleased to be establishing our R&D Center in Midland, Texas, where the weather, surrounding landscape, the airport, and the local & state government environment are ideally situated for the future growth and the ultimate realization of a fully reusable orbital system,” said Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer of XCOR Aerospace. “With future suborbital operational sites on the East and West Coasts of the United States and around the world, plus a manufacturing and test facility geographically separate from our R&D facility, Midland will truly be at the heart of XCOR’s innovation engine.”
“The decision to establish XCOR’s Research and Development Center Headquarters in Midland came after intense competition from other locations,” stated Pam Welch, executive director of MDC, “once the technical and operational needs of XCOR were met, the final factors influencing the decision to locate R&D to Midland included the friendly business climate, a predictable regulatory environment, and the State of Texas tort reform initiatives. These factors allowed XCOR to see a long term future happening in Midland.”
Laura Roman, MDC chairman, stated “Today we celebrate the economic diversity that XCOR’s Research and Development Center Headquarters will bring to Midland along with the $12,000,000 of new payroll and capital investment over the next five years to our community with an estimated average annual wage of over $60,000 per job.”
In parallel with the XCOR facility renovation, the City of Midland is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a Commercial Space Launch Site designation for MAF, an estimated 12 to 18 months process. Upon completion of the licensing process and the hangar renovation, the XCOR presence will begin to ramp up.
The FAA spaceport designation will also be an important economic development tool because of the potential growth in the commercial space sector as NASA relies more on commercial service providers for launch capability and the space tourism market evolves. Marv Esterly, noted, “When our application is approved, the MAF will be the first “Primary Commercial Service Airport” to be granted this designation, and the combination of the two makes Midland attractive to other commercial space companies.”
XCOR Aerospace is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies. XCOR is working with aerospace prime contractors and government customers on major propulsion systems, and concurrently building the Lynx, a piloted, two-seat, fully reusable, liquid rocket powered suborbital vehicle that takes off and lands horizontally and serves research & scientific missions and private spaceflight. The Lynx production models (designated Lynx Mark II) are designed to be robust, multi-mission commercial vehicles capable of flying to 100+ km in altitude up to four times per day and are being offered on a wet lease basis. www.xcor.com.
The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) promotes business expansion in the greater Midland, Texas area by building a strong and diversified economy through job creation and capital investment. The Midland Development Corporation has the ability to structure incentive packages to qualified new and existing employers who create and retain jobs for the community.
Midland International Airport (MAF) is an historic aviation center and home to many unique aviation and aerospace assets. The Pliska Aeroplane, the first aircraft built and flown in Texas was a 1911 vintage aircraft constructed by local blacksmith John Pliska and auto mechanic Gray Coggin. They modeled the aircraft after the Wright Flyer II owned by Robert G Fowler, who was passing through Midland. The original aircraft now hangs in the MAF main terminal. MAF was also the site of the US Army Air Corps Bombardier School during WWII, where numerous pilots were trained on the use of the famous Norden bombsight on the remote plains and reaches of West Texas. In the 1960’s and 1970’s MAF served as the R&D and flight test center for the first all composite aircraft built and licensed in the United States, the Windecker Eagle. And MAF is the current home to the Commemorative Air Force, the premier historic aircraft restoration and flying museum for military aircraft.
The Midland International Airport is ranked ninth in Texas for primary commercial service airports. Owned and operated by the City of Midland, the airport has over twenty daily departures with non-stop service to DFW, Dallas Love Field, Houston Intercontinental, Houston Hobby, Las Vegas and Denver. Currently, the airport is served by Southwest, American Eagle and United Express Airlines.”