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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:49
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Posted 14 May 2012 - 16:11
XCOR Lynx Mark I Taking Shape In Mojave
Four years after the rocket-powered Lynx project was unveiled at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the presence here of a full-scale vehicle mockup at the Spacecraft Technology Expo reveals two fundamental truths about the “new space” market.
Firstly, propelling a privately developed spacecraft to suborbit is extremely difficult. When it first announced the project in March 2008, XCOR Aerospace hoped to be flying within two years, yet is only now assembling the first Mark I vehicle at its Mojave, Calif., facility. The company's long journey to suborbit is partly reflected in the many detailed design differences between the mockup and the artist's concept of 2008.
Secondly, the project shows staying power while underscoring XCOR's determination and the resilience of the market. Despite the challenges and the sluggish economy, the company continues to find support and raise funds. XCOR holds more than $60 million in backlog orders and recently closed a $5 million round of equity funding from new and previous investors, including Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and well-known technology “angel” investors such as Esther Dyson.
XCOR CEO Jeff Greason also continues to exude confidence in the project and the market as a whole. “It took a while, but we think we're there,” he says, describing the path to Lynx. “We've been through two generations of rocket-powered vehicles so far. Firstly, there was the EZ-Rocket between 2001 and 2005, which was aimed at pushing down the cost of rocket-powered operations. Then there was the X-Racer, between 2006 and 2008, which was all about operational tempo. We got it down to around nine minutes between flights and up to seven flights per day.”
Now, with the prospect of long-awaited suborbital flights looming in 2013, Greason says the influence of pioneering operations such as the Lynx will be greater than the sum of its parts. “People talk about the tradeoff between robotic operations and humans—but I don't think a robot has been invented that can enjoy the spaceflight for me, or can do experiments and say, 'Mmmm . . . that looks funny to me.' So it's a game-changer in a way that will impact other uses of human spaceflight.”
Assembly of the initial vehicle is underway, with the truss structure that will support the propulsion system currently being attached to the fuselage. The structure will provide a housing for the vehicle's four XR-5K18 liquid oxygen/kerosene (LOX/RP) rocket engines. Initial tests of the LOX piston pump are about to start, paving the way for closed-loop testing of the engine using its own pump-fed fuel, rather than pressure-fed from offboard sources. XCOR has also received the LOX tank and is issuing requests for bids for the aerodynamic strakes, or fairings, which will enclose the fuel tanks between the fuselage and the wing.
The mockup at the show indicated the changes made to improve the stability and control of the final configuration, including the broader nose section and extended chine. Other changes—which were made after subsonic wind-tunnel trials in 2009 at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, and follow-on tests at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center—included larger-chord wingtip-mounted vertical fins with extended ventral sections. A final set of wind-tunnel campaigns in both facilities is scheduled shortly to confirm minor aerodynamic changes.
Posted 26 June 2012 - 20:07
Posted 26 June 2012 - 20:24
Posted 26 June 2012 - 21:15
Posted 26 June 2012 - 21:35
You may well be very wrong.
Posted 26 June 2012 - 22:21
Posted 08 July 2012 - 04:20
A rocket engine and spaceflight development company could locate its headquarters near Midland International Airport after votes on Monday by the Midland Development Corp. and the Midland City Council.
According to agendas posted Thursday, the two entities will vote on an incentive deal with XCOR Aerospace Inc., which currently operates from Mojave, Calif.
The company is being offered an incentive deal of about $10 million to create a corporate headquarters in Midland that eventually would include enough employees to necessitate a $12 million payroll, said Robert Rendall, MDC board secretary, who’s been working on the project.
“I didn’t realize this industry is as mature as it is,” Rendall said.
“I’m excited we’ve got the opportunity to kind of get in on the ground floor.”
Rendall said the MDC was connected to XCOR through ROI, a consulting firm that provides the MDC with leads, among other things.
Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer for XCOR, said Midland had been on its radar so when executives received a call from the MDC they were interested in learning more. Between the weather, the open space around Midland International Airport and the business climate, Nelson said Midland is an ideal place for them.
“Midland and Texas were high on that list as a business-friendly community and business-friendly state,” he said.
If the deal is approved Monday, XCOR will operate a research and development facility in Midland and will conduct flight tests here.
As part of the incentive package, XCOR is being offered $2 million for creating its headquarters in the Tall City, $3 million toward lease payments and capital improvements at the existing hangar and $5 million for performance incentives, according to a draft contract provided to the Reporter-Telegram.
XCOR would have to meet payroll requirements that would increase each year. After five years, the company would have to certify to the MDC that its Midland payroll is at least $12 million.
City council members and MDC board members said they’re ecstatic about the deal.
“Diversification is in progress,” said Jerry Morales, councilman at large. “That was the main purpose for the creation of the MDC.”
Other officials said in addition to immediate diversification, they’re hopeful XCOR’s relocating to Midland will serve as a catalyst to bring other aerospace companies to the area.
“This is a great company and we’re looking forward to having them locate their operation in Midland,” said Scott Dufford, councilman at large.
Posted 10 July 2012 - 03:21
Commercial Space Company XCOR Announces R&D Headquarters in Texas
Gov. Rick Perry joined XCOR Aerospace and the Midland Development Corp. to announce the creation of XCOR's new Commercial Space Research and Development Center headquarters at the Midland International Airport. XCOR develops and produces reusable launch vehicles, rocket engines and rocket propulsion systems, and will create 100 jobs at this new facility.
"This is a great day for Midland and a huge step forward for the State of Texas. Visionary companies, like XCOR, continue to choose Texas because they know that innovation is fueled by freedom," Gov. Perry said. "Whether on the cutting edge of biotech, communications, commerce or privatized efforts to serve the needs of the next generation of space explorers, you can find Texas at the forefront of the movement."
XCOR's new headquarters will focus on development of the Lynx, the company's next generation reusable launch vehicle. Lynx is a two-seat suborbital vehicle that takes off and lands like normal aircraft. The vehicle will carry a pilot and one spaceflight passenger, and will provide affordable launch services for academic, scientific and engineering markets.
"We are pleased to be establishing our R&D Center in Midland, Texas, where the weather, surrounding landscape, the airport, and the local & state government environment are ideally situated for the future growth and the ultimate realization of a fully reusable orbital system," Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer of XCOR Aerospace, said. "With future suborbital operational sites on the East and West Coasts of the United States and around the world, plus a manufacturing and test facility geographically separate from our R&D facility, Midland will truly be at the heart of XCOR's innovation engine."
"We are elated to welcome XCOR to Midland and to the state of Texas. The Permian Basin is a proud and industrious area where we have developed and maintained the leadership, infrastructure and highly capable work force that will support the further development of XCOR systems," Rep. Tom Craddick said. "With the announcement of the new XCOR research and development headquarters being built in here, Midland will soon be known world-wide not just as a leader in oil and gas industry, but also as a trailblazer in the aerospace industry."
"The decision to establish XCOR's R&D Center Headquarters in Midland came after intense competition from other locations," Midland Development Corp. Executive Director Pam Welch said. "Once the technical and operational needs of XCOR were met, the final factors influencing the decision to locate R&D to Midland included the friendly business climate, a predictable regulatory environment and the State of Texas tort reform initiatives. These factors allowed XCOR to see a long term future happening in Midland."
Posted 15 November 2012 - 13:47
XCOR Announces ATK as Lynx Mark I Wing Detailed Design And Build Contractor
XCOR Aerospace has issued the initial phase of a two-phase contract to ATK's Aerospace Structures Division [NYSE:ATK] for the detailed design and manufacture of the Lynx Mark I suborbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV) wings and control surfaces. This announcement represents a critical milestone in the march toward assembly, test and entry into commercial service of the Lynx.
"This partnership with XCOR will provide unique insights and innovations," said Andrew Jackson, vice president of ATK's Aerospace Structures Division Launch Segment.
"ATK is honored to continue our heritage in creating composite manufacturing solutions for spaceflight and excited to engage in this commercial environment with XCOR."
"As an established industry leader it is only natural that XCOR sought to work with ATK as a key collaborator in the development of Lynx wings," said XCOR Chief Executive Officer Jeff Greason.
"Our engagements with ATK impressed me from the start, not only due to their position as a leader in the industry, but through their immediate grasp of the unique challenges we face in the construction of Lynx wings. The story of Lynx is the story of sound design and reliable engineering. We could not be more thrilled to work with ATK."
XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson added that "until recently NewSpace companies and established aerospace primes like ATK often had minimal interaction with companies like XCOR as the subcontractor.
With this effort we are establishing a model of how smaller NewSpace companies may utilize established government primes as our suppliers; ATK has demonstrated they are nimble, cost effective and can leverage deep experience from prior larger projects."
The initial wing and control surface design has been developed by XCOR to rigorous design standards to enable the craft to perform tens of thousands of flights to and from suborbital altitudes exceeding 100 kilometers.
ATK will create a detailed design ready for manufacture, working with structural and flutter analysis experts from Quartus Engineering in San Diego, Ca.
The wings will be installed on the Lynx Mark I, which is the prototype of the Lynx family of suborbital RLVs from XCOR; the production models are called Lynx Mark II.
Posted 22 March 2013 - 01:02
The Silicon Valley Space Center will develop four scientific payloads to fly on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, which is currently under construction in Mojave, California.
“The Silicon Valley Space Center is proud to support the Citizens in Space program,” said Dr. Sean Casey, co-founder of the Silicon Valley Space Center. “This is a unique opportunity to leverage the technical expertise of the Silicon Valley community in support of citizen science and the emerging suborbital spaceflight industry.”
Citizens in Space has acquired an initial contract for 10 flights on the XCOR Lynx. This initial flight campaign will carry 100 citizen-science payloads and 10 citizen astronauts who will act as payload operators.
The experiments being developed by the Silicon Valley Space Center will serve as pathfinders for those citizen-science experiments. “When a developer is learning a new programming language or technology, he starts out by building a ‘Hello, world’ application,” Casey said. “These payloads serve as ‘Hello, world’ apps for space. They will provide a starting point for citizen scientists who are just getting started in space science.”
The Silicon Valley Space Center is currently reviewing candidate experiments in microgravity materials processing, fluid physics, life sciences, and other fields. Experiments built by the Silicon Valley Space Center will be featured at a series of “Space Hacker” workshops for citizen scientists, the first of which is scheduled for May 4-5 at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California.
“We are pleased to welcome the Silicon Valley Space Center as a partner,” said Edward Wright, project manager for Citizens in Space. “The Center brings the scientific experience and knowledge of the Silicon Valley culture needed to make this program a success.”
“Payload designs will use open-source hardware wherever possible,” Casey said. To achieve this goal, the Silicon Valley Space Center is teaming up with Infinity Aerospace, a Silicon Valley startup that offers Nanorack-compliant and certified technologies for research experiments and commercial activities aboard suborbital and orbital facilities. ArduLab, an Arduino-based microgravity platform developed by Infinity Aerospace, will serve as the underlying hardware for experiments developed by the Silicon Valley Space Center.