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Space company will test rocket engines at Tonopah Aiport

A Bishop, Calif.-based astronautics startup that hopes to one day take civilian passengers to space is planning to test some of its technology at Tonopah Airport.

Nye County commissioners have approved an agreement that allows Pythom Inc. to test its rocket engines on a 1-acre parcel of land there.

“One of the things you have to do when you’re running a launch-vehicle company is test your engines,” Pythom engineer Jamie Hadden told commissioners earlier this month. “We looked far and wide for where we might be able to do that, and the No. 1 top spot is located at [Tonopah Airport] just east of town.”

Pythom will pay $250 a month to access the parcel at Tonopah Airport under the agreement with the county.

Hadden told commissioners that the company’s small rocket engines are printed with 3-D technology and can be held in the palm of a hand. Each rocket is about a meter in diameter, he said, and contains nine of the small engines.

“But it is a rocket and it does burn rocket propellant,” he said.

In March, Pythom executives posted a 2:40-minute video of the test launch of its first Eiger rocket. A handful of employees could be seen running from an expanding cloud of dust and exhaust. The video was replaced with an edited version after it received criticism from rocket scientists and others about the way Pythom employees were handling combustible propellants.

In addition to its plans for launching rockets and taking passengers to space, Pythom officials have said they intend to build a craft to land on Mars by as early as 2024.

Contact editor Brent Schanding at bschanding@pvtimes.com.

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