Midland-headquartered XCOR Aerospace has laid off several members of its workforce, according to several sources, including XCOR, ahead of the release of a formal announcement.
XCOR Chief Operating Officer Randy Baker told the Reporter-Telegram in an email Tuesday, “I can confirm that a number of XCOR employees were laid off last Friday from both the Mojave location and the Midland location.” Baker said the company would not disclose the number of employees nor the positions that were eliminated.
Space industry blog Parabolic Arc, which broke the story Sunday, reported that about 25 employees were laid off. The Reporter-Telegram reported in January that XCOR had 63 employees.
Parabolic Arc also reported that most layoffs were to its Lynx suborbital space plane team. The Lynx is a reusable horizontal-takeoff spacecraft under development. XCOR’s intent was to launch the Lynx from Midland International Air & Space Port, which received its FAA spaceport license in September 2014.
Baker said the company will shift focus to “the final development of the revolutionary liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen (LH2) program.”
“This innovative propulsion technology has applications to upper stage liquid hydrogen capabilities and further underscores the partnership between XCOR and ULA, USA’s premier launch services provider that was announced March 9 this year,” he said.
Baker said the Lynx program “remains an important part of the company’s future.”
“XCOR’s current focus on engine technologies was based on an assessment of the best use of resources for both the short-term and the longer-term objectives of the company,” he said.
XCOR splits development operations between Midland and Mojave, California. XCOR agreed to move its headquarters from Mojave to Midland in 2012 after agreeing to a $10 million incentive deal with Midland Development Corp., an economic development organization funded by the type 4A quarter-cent sales tax.
MDC agreed to pay $2 million in relocation costs, $3 million for costs and expenses associated with its property and $5 million for meeting its payroll requirements, according to the original agreement.
MDC board Chairman Brent Hilliard told the Reporter-Telegram on Tuesday via email that the organization has paid out $9 million dollars to XCOR and $270,000 in lease payments to the city of Midland.
XCOR is headquartered at Hangar A at Midland International. The space company and MDC changed their development agreement earlier this year after XCOR indicated that it didn’t need the entire space it was leasing.
“Out of the $10 million, the original development agreement provided for the equivalent of $1 million of payments to cover the hangar lease where XCOR is currently operating,” Hilliard said. “That amount was amended earlier this year, and now XCOR is paying the MDC $6,000 per month in lease payments for the portion of the hangar they are currently occupying. In other words, the MDC has funded $270,000 of lease payments out of its original commitment to fund $1 million of lease payments making the total amount funded to date equal $9.27 million.”
The unused portion of Hangar A is available for other interested entities to lease.
“The restructuring of the hangar requirements followed an assessment of our needs going forward and allowed the people of Midland an opportunity to see even greater reward for their investment by providing facilities that can be leased to third parties to the benefit of Midland,” Baker said.
As part of the incentive deal, XCOR is obligated to create jobs at its property at Midland International and pay annual salaries and wages of at least $12 million within six years of relocating to Midland.
Baker said all employees in Midland are full-time and that they spend all of their time in Midland, “apart from occasional short-term visits (a day or two) to Mojave for technical or other meetings (generally by executives).”
Neither Baker nor Hilliard were concerned that XCOR would not be able to meet its payroll obligation, though Hilliard said, “The agreement has repayment claw backs for non-compliance.”
Baker said the company has no plans to leave Midland.
“The support of MDC and the people of Midland has been fantastic and the company intends to remain at Midland International Air & Space Port,” he said. “Furthermore, XCOR fully expects to relocate the majority of the remainder of its Mojave employees to Midland over the course of this year.”
“Although XCOR will not be flying the Lynx from Midland in the near future, the spaceport designation remains important to the city and the industry, as it remains the first primary commercial service airport to achieve a spaceport designation,” Baker said. “Midland is the model upon which all future spaceports will be based. XCOR looks forward to flying from Midland when the Lynx project is completed.”
Hilliard said MDC does not think XCOR’s actions will affect the company’s spaceport application.
“The commercial space launch license as granted by the FAA stays in affect and can be adapted to other vehicles as appropriate,” he said.
Original article can be found here: http://www.mrt.com