Spaceport, ARCA join forces
Space launch vehicle and high altitude UAV testing planned
By Elva K. Österreich
Las Cruces Bulletin
A space dreamer in Romania has found realization in Las Cruces and his company has formed a partnership with Spaceport America.
“Only in New Mexico did we find the perfect combination of aerospace assets, airspace and affordability,” said Dumitru Popescu, Founder and CEO of ARCA Space Corporation.
Popexcu started dreaming in 1999, when he started a non-profit in Europe, and now has brought the company (no longer a non-profit) to the United States to complete the dream.
ARCA has a double focus. It will be working on in New Mexico and at Spaceport, bringing both a high altitude unmanned aerial vehicle and a unique rocket design to be tested and completed in the desert.
”We will be doing our high altitude testing of AirStrato, the UAV, at Spaceport,” said Chris Lang, COO of ARCA.
“AirStrato will be available to private businesses and governments and can be used for reconnaissance, search and rescue and numerous other purposes,” Lang said. “Basically it will have capability to be used from earth up to 60,000 feet.”
And in 2017 ARCA will be testing its Haas rockets to suborbital heights at Spaceport America as well.
In 2004, as part of the Ansari X Prize Competition, ARCA successfully launched its first rocket, Demonstrator 2B, followed by a number of additional space launch milestones. “We are basically a start up here in Las Cruces,” Lang said. “We plan to employ over 100 people in the next three years.”
ARCA is welcoming graduates from local institutions into the workforce. Already the first 11 have been employed directly out of local colleges like Doña Ana Community College and New Mexico State University.
“We are really looking to spearhead the employment of area students,” Lang said. “We are ramping up production. This company commercializes the UAV industry. We need everything from welders, technicians and engineers.”
“We look forward to our partnership with ARCA Space Corporation as the first of many hybrid air and space operators,” said Christine Anderson, CEO of Spaceport America, in a release. “ARCA Space Corporation is a perfect example of how New Mexico’s space nexus can be leveraged to help aerospace companies commercialize their technology while creating economic growth for our state.”
At a Sept. 1 meeting in Las Cruces, Aaron Prescott, Spaceport America business development director, said ARCA’s activity “perfectly meshes with the capability and infrastructure we already have built at Spaceport America.”
He said the spaceport is not just about rich people going to space — it’s about building a new industry.
“We think this is all about opportunity — the highest level of opportunity for the next generation.”
Las Cruces Bulletin writer Alta LeCompte contributed to this story.