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XCOR Aerospace Announces Midland, Texas, R&D Headquarters

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XCOR Aerospace and the Midland Development Corporation announced the establishment of a research and development headquarters in Midland, Texas, according to a press release issued jointly by the two entities.

What the research and development headquarters consists of

According to the XCOR/MDC announcement, the research and development headquarters will be located in a newly renovated hanger at Midland International Airport with 60,000 square feet of space. The facility will include offices and a test facility. The conversion of the hanger is scheduled to commence in early 2013, to be completed in the Autumn of 2013.

Why Midland, Texas, was chosen

The announcement stated that XCOR's technical and operation requirements were met. The announcement also cited the business-friendly climate in Texas, a predictable regulatory environment, and tort reform measures in the Lone Star State that caused Midland to be selected after a stiff competition.

Application for a spaceport license made

The city of Midland, according to the announcement, has made an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to designate Midland International Airport as a spaceport. This is necessary to allow XCOR to flight test its Lynx reusable suborbital rocket and any other spacecraft it might develop in the future.

Gov. Rick Perry hails decision

Texas Gov, Rick Perry hailed the decision to locate the research and development facility in Midland, noting that innovation comes from freedom, alluding to Texas' business-friendly government. He touted Texas as the forefront of innovation in a variety of cutting-edge fields, including biotech, communications and, of course, commercial space travel.

Economic benefits to Midland

The XCOR/MDC announcement notes that the XCOR decision will create 100 jobs in Midland, paying an average of $60,000 a year. In all there will be $12 million spent in the next five years in capital improvement and wages as a result of the XCOR research and development facility. The XCOR decision and the prospect of Midland International Airport being designated as a spaceport is expected to attract other commercial space companies who are developing horizontal takeoff and landing spacecraft.

XCOR is developing the Lynx spacecraft

According to XCOR, the company is developing a suborbital crewed spacecraft called the Lynx. The Lynx is designed to carry a pilot and a paying passenger to 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface after taking off from a runway, propelled by a rocket engine. After a brief experience of microgravity and seeing the curvature of the Earth, the Lynx will descend and land at the same runway like an aircraft. An alternate configuration would include a pilot and an experiment package.

Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo and The Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.

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