The Mojave Air and Space Port (IATA: MHV, ICAO: KMHV),
also known as the Civilian Aerospace Test Center, is located in
Mojave, California, at an elevation of 2,791 feet (851 m). It is the
first facility to be licensed in the United States for horizontal
launches of reusable spacecraft, being certified as a spaceport by the
Federal Aviation Administration on June 17, 2004.
Besides being a general-use public airport, Mojave has three main
areas of activity: flight testing, space industry development, and
aircraft heavy maintenance and storage.
The airport has a rich history in air racing. In 1970, a 1000-mile
Unlimited race was held—the first closed-course pylon race to include
pit stops. The race was notable in that it featured a DC-7 airliner,
which flew non-stop and finished sixth out of twenty aircraft. The race
was won by Sherm Cooper in a highly modified Hawker Sea Fury which also
flew non-stop. The following year the race was shortened to 1000-km,
and was again won by a Hawker Sea Fury, this time flown by Frank
Sanders. From 1973 to 1979, Air Race Management (run by famed race
pilots Clay Lacy and Lyle Shelton) organized a series of Reno-syle races
at Mojave featuring Unlimiteds, T-6's, Formula-1's, and Biplanes. In
1973 and '74, the program also included jet races. Unlimited winners at
Mojave included Lyle Shelton in 1973, Mac McClain in 1974 and 1976, Dr.
Cliff Cummins in 1975, and Steve Hinton in 1978 and '79. The races at
Mojave were hampered by constant winds, and extreme temperatures. In the
2000s, California HWY 58 was extended to bypass the town of Mojave,
which cut directly across the race course—thus precluding any future
racing events on the site. In 1983, Frank Taylor set the 15 km
closed-course speed record at 517 mph at Mojave in the P-51 Dago Red.
Over the years, several notable teams have been based out of Mojave. The
two active race teams currently based at Mojave are Nemesis Air Racing
(Sharp Nemesis NXT), and Wasabi Air Racing. In 1990 Scaled Composites
rolled out the radical Pond Racer - built and tested on-site. During the
mid-90's, the Museum of Flying based its two racers Dago Red and
Stiletto out of Mojave as well. And since the early '80's, the
oft-talked about, but rarely seen Wildfire (a custom built Unlimited
based around a T-6 airframe) has slowly been developed in a Mojave
hangar. Ralph Wise's many air racing projects including the Sport Class
Legal GT400 and his V-8 powered unlimited, the GT500, were designed and
built at Mojave. The GT 400 Quicksilver ultralight program is also based
out of Mojave airport.
Flight testing activities have been centered at Mojave since the
early 1970s, due to the lack of populated areas surrounding the airport.
It is also favored for this purpose due to its proximity to the Edwards
Air Force Base, where the airspace is restricted from ground level to an
unlimited height, and where there is a supersonic corridor. Mojave is
also the home of the National Test Pilot School and Scaled Composites.
Space industry development
Beginning with the Rotary Rocket program, Mojave became a focus for
small companies seeking a place to develop space access technologies.
Mojave Spaceport has been a test site for several teams in the Ansari X
Prize, most notably the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne, which conducted
the first privately funded human sub-orbital flight on June 21, 2004.
Other groups based at the Mojave Spaceport include XCOR Aerospace,
Masten Space Systems, and Other companies at Mojave include Orbital
Sciences Corporation and Interorbital Systems.
The East Kern Airport District has been given spaceport status by the
Federal Aviation Administration for the Mojave Air and Spaceport through
June 16, 2014.