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XCOR Breaks Wall Into New Hanger, Begins Next Phase For Commercial Space Travel

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - If you didn't see XCOR officially kicking off their move in, chances are you may have heard it. Instead of a ground breaking, they had a wall breaking.

XCOR officials and city leaders met Friday morning at the company's new hangar to hammer down a wall and start the next phase in their mission to fly people to space.  

In attendance was former Midland mayor Wes Perry, who helped bring in the company, a boastful Midland Mayor Jerry Morales and City Councilman John Love who entertained the audience with his love of space. 

"We've been working very hard to reach this point of breaking a wall to show that we do mean business, XCOR does mean business," Morales said.

They had custom-made gold sledgehammers that they smashed into parts of the wall that had been marked with a bulls eye, each square paired with one of 10 human bulldozers. It was a fun way for them to signal that they're moving into their new hangar for the long haul.

"I hit it a little too hard. My hand went through the wall," XCOR CEO, Jeff Greason, said. "I guess I was a little over-eager to get there," he said.

That enthusiasm, and what he admits is borderline desperation, is the mindset many of the workers have had. But the event brought some relief.

"Now my people can start getting some certainty in their lives about when we can finally move," Greason said.

Everyone's taking notes, because if all goes as planned, Midland would be the first spaceport inside of an airport.

"This is a milestone for us. By actually having another revenue stream here at the airport, we can control cost to airlines which guarantees us great airline service into the future," Midland International Airport Director, Marv Esterly, said.

For now, XCOR officials say there's a trifecta of elements that have to converge to make it possible to get there including moving into the new building and building a spacecraft.

"It's almost impossible to convey our need for more space right now. I've got equipment living outdoors because I've got no space to put it inside," Greason said. He said their site in Mojave is so cramped there's hardly room to walk.

Next on the list is making sure the FAA approves their spaceport license, something that's been getting delayed, most recently because of the Lesser Prairie Chicken. It has been listed as a threatened species.

"It's amazing the things that pop up over the last two years along the way, but again it's just a part of everyone making sure they want to dot all their I's and cross all their T's," Esterly said.

"I think that now that we've gotten past the zoning issues, we are in the homestretch," Morales said.

But Greason explained that this doesn't mean there aren't and won't continue to be problems to deal with but he credits the entire team that has worked in conjunction with each other to mitigate issues. 

"We've all figured out together how to deal with them, and as long as we continue to do that, I think we will continue to get there," Greason said.

"The government can do whatever the government does, but we're fairly confident that we're moving forward," XCOR's Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Nelson, said.

The hangar will start to get filled in the spring of 2015 and the Lynx aircraft is being constructed in the Mojave Desert.

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