Headlines > News > X Prize launches spaceport hiring boom

X Prize launches spaceport hiring boom

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:33 pm
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By ALLISON GATLIN , Valley Press Staff Writer: MOJAVE – Things continue to look up at Mojave Airport, as many of the facility’s tenants are hiring as work orders increase.
“There are jobs available for people who want to work in Mojave,” said Stu Witt, airport general manager. “It’s a very positive position to be in.”

Scaled Composites – home to such big-name projects as SpaceShipOne and its follow-on Virgin Galactic spacecraft and the globe-trotting GlobalFlyer – is expected to increase its work force by at least 50% over the next year, said Kaye LeFebvre, Scaled Composites spokeswoman.
The hiring boom will be for various new projects coming to the company, she said.
The company is looking for composite fabricators and engineers.

The company’s fame since winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize earlier this year has led to a flood of résumés, with 50 or more arriving weekly, LeFebvre said.

Composites manufacturer Fiberset has seen its orders jump in the last month, bringing on a hiring binge there as well.
The company received orders for 10 new jobs in two weeks’ time, said CEO and President Marie Walker.
Some of those were unexpected new orders from existing clients, but others were complete surprises, she said. The company even received its first order for rocket parts.
“We’ve never gone into the new year with a backlog,” she said. “I was speechless.”

The company already has hired three new employees and is looking for more, Walker said. Especially in demand are skilled composite technicians.
Walker is also president of the East Kern Airport District board of directors, which governs Mojave Airport.

“This could be our time. I think 2005 is going to be a record-breaking year for a lot of us,” she said. “I really think the boom is here.”
Outside the aviation realm, Progress Rail is expanding its operations at the airport, Witt said, and hiring entry-level and skilled positions.
The rail company’s expansion is partly thanks to the proactive approach the airport has taken to aid its tenants, Witt said.
“We’ve been working with them to expand their business,” he said.

The boom times at the airport are something of an anomaly in the southeastern Kern County area.
“I’m not seeing that kind of activity anywhere else,” said Tom Pear of the Mojave Career Services Center.
Not only is the hiring activity unique to the airport, but so is its timing. Typically, hiring slows down in late December and early January, so “it’s unusual to see these things going on at this time,” Pear said.

The successes of SpaceShipOne last year focused a worldwide spotlight on the airport and its activities, which may be helping to attract business in the aerospace industry and elsewhere.
For example, a company interested in producing flour for export is setting up shop at the airport in order to take advantage of its rail and air freight access. The enterprise should provide 10 to 20 new jobs, Pear said.

“This is really great for Mojave and this area,” he added.

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