Spaceplane firm chooses Texas test site

July 9, 2012 at 5:58 PM

MOJAVE, Calif., July 9 (UPI) -- A commercial spacecraft company working on a space plane to take paying tourists on suborbital flights says it will open a test facility in Texas.

XCOR Aerospace, based in Mojave, Calif., and the Midland Development Corp. announced plans Monday for XCOR's research and development center in Midland, Texas, SPACE.com reported.

"We are pleased to be establishing our R&D center in Midland, Texas, where the weather, surrounding landscape, the airport, and the local and state government environment are ideally situated for the future growth and the ultimate realization of a fully reusable orbital system," Andrew Nelson, XCOR chief operating officer, said.

Components for an orbital version of XCOR's Lynx space plane will be tested at the center, company officials said.

The Lynx is designed to be a reusable, winged spaceship to lift two passengers and science experiments to the edge of space.

Construction of XCOR's facility, to occupy a 60,000-square-foot hangar at the Midland International Airport, will start next year and open by late in 2013, Midland officials said.

Midland is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration for the airport to be certified as a commercial space launch site, they said.

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