Midland Reporter-Telegram - Speaking Out
Midland Development Corporation Board Chairman
Earlier this week, representatives from the City of Midland and the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) met with officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to accept the approval of a Commercial Space Launch Site License for the Midland International Airport. With the official name change that accompanies this license, the Midland International Air & Space Port is the first primary commercial service airport to be certified by the FAA under the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 420 as a spaceport.
This endeavor began 12 years ago when Midland voters chose to fund the MDC with a directive to commence a program of economic expansion and diversification. At the MDC we strive to identify and bring new industries to Midland that will complement our existing oil and gas industry. I am pleased to report that we have achieved a big win for our community in our diversification efforts. Midland is now competitively poised to be the incubator for the new and growing private aerospace business.
Because private commercial space transportation is still in its early stages, we have the opportunity to make Midland a pioneer for commercial spaceflight. The spaceport business model is to start with key partners to help develop Midland as a research and development hub. Our first two companies, XCOR Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters, are leaders in their respective niches and were instrumental in the City’s efforts to obtain the FAA permit.
The development of the Midland Altitude Chamber, which will be owned by MDC and managed by Orbital Outfitters, will provide research and testing opportunity for all of the private aerospace companies in our region. It is a key building block to develop a new aerospace industrial hub.
The engineering and technical workforce and skills that already exist in our region are easily transferable to the aerospace industries. We expect a strengthened economy with the arrival of this diverse new cluster industry and the high paying jobs that it will bring.
Your Midland Development Corporate Board cannot express enough appreciation to our City leaders, especially Mayor Morales and former Mayor Perry, for their leadership and support. Special thanks go to Marv Esterly, Director of Airports, and Pam Welch, Executive Director of MDC, who have dedicated countless hours and expended super human efforts during the permit process. Jeff Greason and Andrew Nelson with XCOR and Jeff Feige with Orbital Outfitters were also instrumental with their guidance through the application process.
Receipt of the spaceport license is just the beginning of a long exciting journey which will truly place Midland in the center of the next generation of private commercial transportation opportunities.