The Silicon Valley of spaceflight
Spaceflight startups are flocking to the tiny town of Mojave, Calif.
By Geoff Keighley

(Business 2.0) - If you want to view the entrepreneurial future of space travel, start in Los Angeles. Drive 100 miles northeast until you reach sun-baked Mojave (population 3,800). Head to the local airport. Don't expect to see launchpads or fancy command centers--there are none to be found. Yet history is being made here: In 2004 the Federal Aviation Administration certified Mojave Airport as a civilian spaceport. Burt Rutan's company, Scaled Composites, has its headquarters near the runways, and it was from here that his SpaceShipOne became the first private spacecraft to carry a passenger beyond the stratosphere.

Rutan isn't alone. His neighbors include a handful of other space-related ventures, and together this cluster of startups resembles nothing so much as the early pioneers of the computing industry back in the days when tech companies first began setting up shop among the prune orchards of what would later be called Silicon Valley. This isn't to say that the atmosphere at Mojave is chummy; the firms housed here are fierce competitors. "We share information with each other about as much as Boeing exchanges information with Lockheed," says Randa Milliron, who works at spaceport tenant Interorbital Systems.

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What matters most, however, is that Mojave is already home to a critical mass of talent dedicated to the task of reducing the cost and complexity of space travel.

Click here for a photo gallery of the players to watch. Top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.