This post was sent in by our own Mike Massee…
This weekend saw the departure of a dear friend and longtime member of the XCOR family. Mouser, age 11, passed away in her sleep early Saturday morning.
It is very important for a spacecraft manufacturer to be free of pests, especially mice. They work their way into rocket plumbing and aircraft, and chew up wiring among other nuisances.
So early on, XCOR knew it needed a cat who would be experienced with catching rodents.
Not a cat that had been raised in a shelter, or anywhere away from nature (though we love shelter cats).
Certainly not a house cat.
Mouser was born some time in 2002. We adopted her soon after. She was, from the first, hell on mice.
In the entire time we had Mouser, we never saw a single rodent (after she rid us of the initial batch in Hangar 61, firmly encamped prior to our arrival).
She also caught the occasional bird and had showdowns with several squirrels who on rare occasion wandered into the shop.
Mouser provided comic relief on long days and nights of testing and project deadlines, and was attuned to the rhythms and sounds of the shop. She trained herself to run for cover whenever a rocket test was about to occur, and did not like the noise of the teacart engines that we test in the hangar.
For example, Mouser gradually learned to associate steps being read on Doug Jones’s checklist with impending noise. Whenever Doug arrived at the moment in the checklist where he yells ‘HEARING PROTECTION EVERYONE!”–on cue, Mouser scurried through the office cat door and under Aleta’s desk, making up for her lack of hearing protection.
Mouser also had a bit of a following outside of XCOR. Once she was featured by our friends at “The Fruit Guys” who keep us stocked with snacks, and she was adored by many of our investors, clients, visiting government officials, Mojave Spaceport personnel and XCOR family members.
Like all cats, Mouser liked sleep, food and laying in sunlight. On sunny mornings, we opened the hangar doors and Mouser would wander outside–but never too far–to get her dose of sunshine. Occasionally someone would set a chair out in the hangar, in the streaming sunlight for her to nap on, or she would just chill on the floor.
One particular chair she liked so much, we put a piece of tape on the back and dubbed it the “Mouser hair chair” because it was so covered with fur. She liked being spun around in swivel chairs as well. She knew the sound of her own name and would give you a sharp meow if alert, or a groggy mrrowr if half asleep. Greeting her was also frequently an occasion for her to ask for a snack, by means of following you around if you passed near the food bowl. And to keep people from accidentally over-feeding her, Mouser had her own employee timesheet with a log for who had fed her for breakfast, mid-day snack and dinner.
Mouser will be remembered as a fixture in the early days of XCOR, with us every step as we grew from ten people to over fifty. She saw the construction and flights of two rocket powered aircraft, countless engines, pumps and other significant company achievements.
More importantly, she played her part in making those flights possible.
Every visitor who saw Mouser loved her and loved the idea of a cat in a rocket hangar.
Rest in peace, Mouser. And wherever you rest there is, we know, a chair with a ray of sunshine ready just for you.
You will be missed.
Your friends and family at XCOR