A midyear budget update was presented by CFO Erika Westawski to the Mojave Air and Space Port directors at their March 5 meeting.
CEO Stuart Witt discussed the current status of Mojave involvement in the FAA Screening Information Request solicitation regarding Unmanned Aviation Systems in the National Airspace. Several contract and purchase expenditures were approved. Witt also reported on his attendance at the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch to the International Space Station.
Through January, expenses have exceeded revenues. This is due to major capital investments in bringing utilities to the north side of the airport, and to rehabilitation of Bldg. 137. This situation was anticipated; the airport has sufficient funds available to handle the overage.
The north side utilities project is now estimated to cost about $1.5 million. It will be completed by mid-May. There was an overrun as complying with Southern California Edison requirements was more expensive than anticipated. The utility has detailed specifications for the structures in which it will place electrical lines. The rehabilitation of building 137 is estimated to cost $1.5 million. It is progressing well. Bids will be sought on flooring.
FAA UASTSS solicitation
The FAA issued its Test Site Selection solicitation Feb. 14 after much delay.
The FAA is seeking data to use in selecting six test sites to advance the integration of UAS into the Nation Airspace. Witt reported that the staff made a detailed analysis during the Feb 16-18 weekend. It was estimated that perhaps $500,000 to $2 million might be involved to participate in this activity. It was noted that no federal funds have been earmarked for the effort. Several tenants are involved in UAS work. They operate under FAA experimental licenses. They see no need to become involved in this FAA procurement.
The board directed staff not to bid on this solicitation, but to participate where appropriate. Mojave has indicated that it would be interested in becoming a launch and recovery site for such an effort. Both Inyokern Airport and Ventura County have spoken with Mojave.
The FAA solicitation is in response to a requirement by Congress that it establish six UAS test sites. Applicants must be non-federal public entities such as state or local governments, their departments, agencies or special purpose districts, or a “commuter authority.” They must complete several filings, including the submission of documentation showing compliance with SIR requirements by March 28. At present, 50 applicants from 37 states have responded.
The Capitol Aerospace Group is performing a survey of airport obstacles and will provide instrument approach procedures for runways 26 and 30.
They will identify potential mitigation measures to reduce the minima for the existing GPS approach for Runway 04. Also, they will assist Mojave in expediting approval of the new approaches with the FAA Flight Procedures Office. The contract amount is $20,000. Additionally:
- A new VOIP telephone system is to be installed in the administration building. The cost is $13,102.24.
- Consulting services on wind turbine tower light pollution will continue under a $10,000 increase to the present agreement with JG Clancy.
- Incotec, an airport tenant which coats aerospace fasteners will be reimbursed $6,000 for installation of a water filtration system.
- Participation as a sponsor of the New Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference was approved. The sponsorship fee is $2,500.
Witt was invited as one of about 250 VIPs to witness the March 1 launch of Falcon 9-Dragon to bring cargo to the International Space Station.
He was completely impressed with the launch countdown which proceeded with no interruptions. And when only one of the four Dragon attitude rockets fired, threatening mission success, the young SpaceX crew coolly and efficiently fixed the problem in six hours. Both Witt and retired astronauts and senior NASA observers were impressed with the new generation. Witt took it as a sign of the efficiency of commercial involvement in space flight.
The Antelope Valley Board of Trade honored Witt with the Navigating Change Award in February. His letter of appreciation to the Board of Trade ends with the following:
“Over the next year you will see a new and exciting series of “Firsts” at Mojave. We would be honored to have your membership stand with us as we celebrate the many who reach high to make a difference for all humanity and further our nation’s leadership in aerospace. While I was personally honored with this award I represent the leadership of Mojave Air & Space Port and all who put their trust in us to provide the unencumbered opportunity to expand the new frontier of commercial space.”