Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Virgin Galactic First Manned Free Flight Debuts in Kern Counties Mojave Air and Spaceport

The first free flight of the SpaceShipTwo (VSS Enterprise) craft began this week after a series of captive carry flights. The captive carry flights are flights where SpaceShipTwo is attached to its mother ship WhiteKnightTwo (aka:Eve after Sir Richard Branson’s mother) which took place earlier this year in March. The free flight confirmed that the VSS Enterprise’s flight systems were all functioning correctly. News reports quote the pilot Peter Siebold saying “That was a real joy to fly,” “especially when one considers the fact that the vehicle has been designed not only to be a Mach 3.5 spaceship capable of going into space but also one of the worlds highest altitude gliders.” Virgin Galactic plans to enter into commercial operations once all testing is complete. The craft will be taken up to a high altitude by a conventional plane then released at which point, a rocket booster will propel the craft out of the atmosphere. Its reentry would be similar to NASA’s Space Shuttle with a controlled glide to a predefined landing point

It took place in California's Mojave Desert at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the center of Mojave, Ca. between Hwy 14 and Hwy 58 and just north of Edward Airforce Base in Kern County. Flight testing activities have been centered in Mojave since the early 1970s as there is limited population. In addition, being near Edwards Airforce base restricted airspace is ideal for testing. It is also been an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle, and a famous moth ball fleet site of unused commercial planes covering the horizon. The FAA has given the airport spaceport status through 2014. It has recently gained fame as a Spaceport with Virgin Galactic but other private space companies like XCOR Aerospace a rocket engine and spaceflight development company, Orbital a satellite launch and manufacturer, Masten Space Systems an aerospace startup company, and Interorbital Systems which is working on a line of launch vehicles aimed at winning the Google Lunar X Prize all call Mojave their home. The area has a sparse population but very high tech ambitions. This adds to Antelope Valley’s a reputation for flight as Palmdale, Ca Plant 42 was the original home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber.

Virgin Galactic $450 million project will eventually see six commercial vessels shuttling into space as Virgin Galactic has lined up some 370 customer deposits totaling some $50 million for what it will be the world’s first commercial passenger space flight operation. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows, one side window and one overhead, so that, if you don't want to float free in space, and you'd rather just remain in your seat, you still get a great chance to see the view.

Lancaster, Palmdale and Mojave Ca. continue to promote high tech opportunities with homegrown technologies that can’t be outsourced. The growth in Solar, Wind, Aerospace and Space technology provide long term professional jobs within a commuting proximity to Greater Los Angeles. These are the types of signs of an expanding economy, and an investment opportunity to be ahead of the curve. Landbanking is based on buying and holding undeveloped land for the near and long term. Low priced land is available today in 2010 for a good potential profit in five to ten years.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is the California High-Speed Rail Coming Around the Corner?

AP Business news reported on Governor Swarzenegger’s trip to China promoting California products and tourism, but a main point on this overseas trip is to investigate high-speed rail technology and financing. The New York Times also reported in early April of this year about China negotiations with Sacramento to use their high speed rail technology to build the rail-line from Sacramento ultimately to San Diego. The proposed rail would initially be built from Los Angeles to Anaheim and San Francisco to San Jose and then expand from their (see A future rail stop will also be in Palmdale Ca. In the AP News article the Governor was to travel from Shanghai to Nanjing using China’s speed train. Currently China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network spanning 4300 miles, and can run up to 220 miles per hour.

The Governor is also planning stops in Japan and South Korea to experience their high speed rail systems as they are also suitors to build the California Rail System. Interesting though South Korea and China learned the technology from France and Germany which have also presented proposals to Sacramento along with Italy and Spain. The Europeans are skeptical of Chinese technology, since its European grown, so there maybe some licensing issues. There may also be labor issues as Chinese labor laws do not favor the laborer. Yet, the Chinese have preliminarily agreed to abide by all US labor laws. The NY Times indicates the cooperation agreement would entail eighty percent of the components to come from American suppliers and assemble to be done in the US. A potential site would be the previous auto plant in Fremont Ca. thereby keeping most of the jobs in the State. The largest obstacle may be financing as the project is expected to cost $46 billion, but Chinese Banks may also be the solution. Up to $8 billion has already been pledged by the Federal Government as part of the Recovery Act. The Chinese have offered to also help further finance the project. Can the US afford such a large contribution in technology and financing from a foreign power? Can the State afford not to with 12 % unemployment? Would travelers actually take the train? There are many real issues that can derail this project, yet numerous governments are also fully behind it.

Many investors in Lancaster and Palmdale have been looking for signs of growth, so the potential for a rail line with the expansion of Solar and Wind technology in the Valley does show current and future expansion. The State Department of Finance is also expecting population growth from 2010-2015 to increase by 2 million and potentially an additional 18 million by 2040 with Southern California getting most of this growth. There looks to be speculative land opportunities still on the horizon, and Antelope Valley looks to benefit.