Rockets In The Desert



At a desolate airfield in the Mojave Desert, a group of entrepreneurs, engineers and rocket scientists is attempting to build a new industry of private spaceflight and exploration.

Some are calling the small town of Mojave the Silicon Valley of space. Others compare what is happening here with Kitty Hawk and the early days of the aviation industry.

Space journalist Richard Hollingham goes inside the workshops and hangars at the Mojave Air and Space Port, where he discovers rockets, space planes and a culture where risk is encouraged.

Richard talks to Virgin Galactic and tours the sixty-year old wooden hangar of lesser-known rivals, XCOR. Both companies are hoping to fly tourists into space. He sees the unremarkable shed where a new lunar lander is taking shape and meets the locals who are pinning their hopes on rocket scientists to revive the depressed local economy.

If the projects being developed in this small desert town are successful, they could ultimately transform access to space and make a difference to all our lives.

Producer: John Watkins

A Boffin Media production for BBC Radio 4.