The Mojave Airport was first opened in 1935 as a small, rural airfield serving the local gold and silver mining industry.
In July, 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps took over the field and vastly expanded it as the Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station (MCAAS) Mojave. Many of the Corps’ WWII aces received their gunnery training at Mojave. With the end of WWII, MCAAS was disestablished in 1946, and became instead a U.S. Navy airfield. At the end of 1953, the USMC reopened MCAAS Mojave as an auxiliary field to MCAS El Toro.
In 1961, after the USMC transferred operations to MCAS El Centro, Kern County obtained title to the airport. In February, 1972, the East Kern Airport District was formed to administrate the airport; EKAD maintains the airport to this day.
Mojave Air and Space Port has since evolved from a sleepy desert general aviation destination to a world renowned flight research center spanning 3300 acres, hosting the latest and most advanced aeronautical designs. Hosting more than 60 companies engaged in light industrial to highly-advanced aerospace design, flight test and research to heavy rail industrial, Mojave Air and Space Port and industrial park might very well be a destination for your business.
Over the past three years the infrastructure has been upgraded to accommodate significant flight line development and industrial manufacturing utilizing common industry components which complement each other. The wind industry and aviation industry rely heavily on composite fabrication using carbon fiber and fiberglass technology – both reside at Mojave Air and Space Port. The commercial aircraft industry relies heavily on firms located at Mojave Air and Space Port to perform aircraft inspections, storage and part-out. Many specialty firms at Mojave focus specifically on engine development, noise reduction technology, advanced cockpit display development and major airframe design modifications. Mojave Air and Space Port is home to the National Test Pilot School where more test pilots are educated than any other site in the world.
Our upgraded rail infrastructure and switch engine moves product in and out of Mojave Air and Space Port with 34 daily rail car shipments. Mojave Air and Space Port is home to a full-service wheel shop that makes up one of the largest non-railroad networks in North America. Progress Rail operates nine wheel shops strategically located across the United States, allowing them to provide prompt, convenient service to all their customers, regardless of their location.
Flight Research activities include endo- and exo- atmospheric craft supporting private sector and government-funded projects.
Breakthroughs & Firsts
When it comes to global ‘firsts’ in flight, flight test, and aerospace, the Mojave Air and Space Port has been a consistent breaker of records and aerospace barriers. Here are a few groundbreaking — and sometimes record-breaking — innovations that were born at Mojave Air and Space Port.
The development and launch of the experimental SpaceShipOne was arguably the biggest ‘first’ in the history of Mojave Air and Space Port. Scaled Composites Model 316 SpaceShipOne completed the first privately-funded human spaceflight on June 21, 2004 and September 29, 2004, piloted by Mike Melvill, and then again on October 4, 2004, piloted by Brian Binnie. It won the $10-million Ansari X Prize after reaching 100 kilometers in altitude twice in a two-week period with the equivalent of three people on board, with no more than ten percent of the non-fuel weight of the spacecraft replaced between flights. The flight was timed partially to coincide with the 47th anniversary of the Soviet launch of Sputnik.
SpaceShipOne was developed by Scaled Composites (Burt Rutan’s aerospace company) with no government funding. Featuring a hybrid rocket motor, it also used a unique “shuttlecock” reentry system, whereupon the rear half of the wing and the twin tail booms folded upward along a hinge running the length of the wing, increasing drag while remaining stable. During its testing regime, SpaceShipOne set a number of important ‘firsts,’ including being the first privately-funded aircraft to exceed Mach 2 and Mach 3, the first privately-funded spacecraft to exceed 100km altitude, and the first privately-funded reusable spacecraft. SpaceShipOne now hangs in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, above the Apollo 11 command module and alongside the Kitty Hawk. British billionaire Sir Richard Branson is expected to fund SpaceShipTwo through his company Virgin Galactic.
The Scaled Composites Model 76 Voyager was the first aircraft in history to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. The initial idea for Voyager was first scratched out on a napkin by Burt Rutan, Founder and CEO of Scaled Composites, as he lunched with his brother Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1981. Rutan and Yeager would later pilot the aircraft when it first took off from Edwards Air Force Base’s 15,000 foot (4,600 m) runway in the Mojave Desert on December 14, 1986. Their flight ended successfully nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds later, on December 23. They flew westerly 26,366 statute miles (42,432 km; the FAI accredited distance is 40,212 km) at an average altitude of 11,000 feet (3.4 km), breaking a previous record set by a United States Air Force crew piloting a Boeing B-52 that flew 12,532 miles (20,168 km) without refueling in 1962.
Mojave Air and Space Port was where the EZ-Rocket – a tiny build-it-yourself plane outfitted with rockets – first flew. Its two rocket engines, designed, built and tested by XCOR Aerospace, run on isopropyl alcohol, basically rubbing alcohol, and liquid oxygen, generating a total of 800 pounds of thrust. The EZ-Rocket is an operations demonstrator, designed to show that a rocket powered vehicle could reliably and economically be flown several times a day.
July 21, 2001, is the date of its first flight. At that time it had only one engine. On October 3rd, 2001 the EZ-Rocket flew on two engines, reaching about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) altitude above Mojave Airport before exhausting its propellants. Then test pilot Dick Rutan, who was the first to fly around the world nonstop in the Voyager, glided it back home. Later, on December 3rd, 2005, Dick Rutan flew the EZ-Rocket for a world distance record.
EZ-Rocket flew 26 times, four of those flight before air show crowds: July, 2002, at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and at the X-Prize Cup in October, 2005, in Las Cruces, NM. The EZ-Rocket is now retired
America's First Inland Spaceport
In 2004, Mojave Air and Space Port became the only private airport in the U.S. with a commercial spaceflight license after receiving official licensing by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST). A launch site operator license was granted to the Mojave Airport on June 17.