July 9, 2012

XCOR establishing new commercial spaceflight R&D center in Texas

The Midland Development Corporation and XCOR Aerospace jointly announced July 9 the establishment of XCOR’s new Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters that will be created over the next 18 months in Midland, Texas.

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. Rick 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 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 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.”

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