|Population: < 4,000 people|
A small city of Mojave, located at the western boundary of the desert with the same title, was established in 1876. It owes its birth to the railway boom, which has seized California in the last half of XIX century: according to the Southern Pacific Railroad development plans, this was exactly the location of a large railway junction. For decades the railway transport and the mining played the main part in the life of Mojave. Even now, Mojave, located at meeting point of two railways and two highways, is one of the key transport junctions in Southern California.
25 miles to the northeast of Mojave, where Sierra-Nevada and El Paso mountain ranges converge, Red Rock Canyon State Park is located. It is both a wildlife sanctuary and a museum of the mining industry of the end of 19th century.
This is about all one could say about Mojave; and there are many places like it in California. But there is another sight in Mojave, which makes this village (and it actually does not even have a city status) world renown, and that is a local airport. However, “airport” is not the right word to use. It was established in 1935 for servicing the local airlines, but in several decades it became one of the largest in the world training-testing center for civil and military aviation, and a space research center, with an airfield capable of accepting and servicing any type of aircraft. One of only two civilian-operated test pilot schools in the world is located here. Edwards Air Force Base, where space shuttles land from time to time, is also cantoned nearby. Subdivisions of many large companies, like General Electric or BAe Systems, and many smaller high tech firms like Scaled Composites, XCOR Aerospace, Space Launch Corp., Orbital Sciences Corp. and others are located in Mojave itself.
It is not a coincidence that the legendary Voyager aircraft was built exactly in Mojave at the Research department of Scaled Composites, under supervision of Burt Rutan, on which a crew of two made a non-stop flight around the world in 1986. Currently the department completed another new plane, GlobalFlyer, this time for a solo around-the-world non-stop non-refueled flight.
In 2004, another prominent event happened in the history of Mojave, the airport became a spaceport. On June 17, 2004 the Federal Aviation Administration licensed it to launch space vehicles. At this location took off and successfully landed the first in the world private manned sub-orbital reusable space ship, SpaceShipOne, built by the same Scaled Composites. On the third flight the ship reached the record for the sub-orbital vehicles altitude – 112 kilometers. This way Scaled Composites won the Anzari X-Prize, 10 million dollars, promised to the first non-government organization that would build a spacecraft to fly at 100 kilometers or higher.
Mojave owes its world fame to the Nature and its location in it. Removed from big cities, having no ecology-imposed constraints (that for noise in particular), an even terrain, 360 sunny days an year, it has ideal conditions for landing and takeoff, technical service and storage for an aircraft of any purpose or size.