SpaceShipTwo suborbital craft disintegrated in a test flight last year, killing one pilot and injuring another. Credit: Virgin Galactic

SpaceShipTwo suborbital craft disintegrated in a test flight last year, killing one pilot and injuring another.
Credit: Virgin Galactic

Is California’s Kern County the next frontier for aerospace innovation?

When you think of Kern County’s economy, two things may jump to mind: oil and agriculture.

But there’s another big player in the county’s economy – aerospace. County economic development officials estimate that around 20,000 people are employed in the sector – and one of the fastest growing areas has been in the field of commercial spaceflight.

The Mojave Air and Space Port in eastern Kern County is home to a number of startups specializing in the field.

But last year that tight knit community was rocked by tragedy when Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo was destroyed in a test flight, killing co-pilot Mike Alsbury and seriously injuring the other co-pilot.

Virgin Galactic pilot Todd Ericson and NTSB investigators at SpaceShipTwo accident site. Credit: NTSB

Virgin Galactic pilot Todd Ericson and NTSB investigators at SpaceShipTwo accident site.
Credit: NTSB

Now three months after that accident, where does the world of commercial spaceflight go from here?Listen to this Valley Public Radio (VPR) — part of the NPR digital network – program on the topic, aired January 20, 2015, hosted by VPR’s Joe Moore and Ezra David Romero.

Guests: Leonard David, space journalist, and Stuart Witt – the CEO of the Mojave Air and Spaceport, the nation’s first inland spaceport and home to Scaled Composites, which has conducted tests of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

The nearly 18 minute discussion can be heard at:

http://kvpr.org/post/kern-county-next-frontier-aerospace-innovation

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