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Is Kern County The Next Frontier For Aerospace Innovation?

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Virgin Galactic

When you think of Kern County’s economy, you probably think of two things – oil and ag. 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  crashed, killing co-pilot Mike Alsbury and seriously injuring the other co-pilot. Now three months after that accident, where does the world of commercial spaceflight go from here?

We talked to two experts:

Leonard David with Space.com – He’s covered the space industry for more than five decades, and is the former director of research for the National Commission on Space. He’s also co-author of Buzz Aldrin's 2013 book "Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration" published by National Geographic.

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.

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.
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