XCOR Aerospace has been in the aerospace business since 1999. They're headquartered at the Mojave Spaceport just down the tarmac from Virgin Galactic and their specialty is re-usable liquid fueled rocket engines.
A big project is a joint-venture with Boeing to develop a very low cost 30,000 lb-f/30 kilo-Newton 2nd stage liquid hydrogen engine for boosters that could easily be scaled way up. They have also developed a reciprocating piston liquid hydrogen pump that could further cut booster costs by replacing the very expensive turbo-pumps currently in use. Lots of interested parties for that one.
Then there is the project that is starting to get a lot of attention, and customers for when it flies - the Lynx suborbital spaceplane. Lynx is on one hand like SpaceShipTwo, and on the other hand very different.
SS2 - Lynx comparisons:
SS2 is 60ft/18.29m long with a 27ft/8.23m wingspan.
Lynx is 30ft/9m long with a 24ft/7.5m wingspan
SS2 is launched from the White Knight Two mothership at 50,000 feet.
Lynx takes off directly from the ground, requiring a very short runway.
SS2 carries 6 passengers and a crew of 2.
Lynx carries 0-1 passengers and a crew of 1.
SS2 passengers will pay $200,000 at first
Lynx passengers will pay about $100,000 at first
SS2 passengers will be able to de-seat and float around and look out through portholes.
Lynx passengers will have to remain seated, but the cockpit has a panoramic view.
SS2 can only fly from spaceports with a runway capable of handling White Knight Two and refurbing its hybrid engine
Lynx can fly from short runways, and the fuel/liquid oxygen handling can be done using a portable cart.
SS2 can carry internal experiments and mount external micro-satellite size payloads.
Lynx can do the same, but it can also launch small orbital satellites from a Dorsal Pod on its back, or even carry small telescopes for missions like NASA's Sophia flying telescope - but much higher.
These missions are not theoretical - they are sold missions and Lynx is very, very real!
This is for Neoadorable: they are working on a larger, orbital, Lynx-like vehicle that will also take off from a runway, but using a fly-back booster.
Pics below with appropriate labeling -
Flight profile animation
Lynx cockpit cutaway - payloads
Lynx with Payload Pod
Lynx launching satellite (or ??) from the Dorsal Pod
thanks a lot for this Doc, you have made my day with the Lynx Mk II. this is indeed a step in the right direction, so we can prove to you that the future is indeed the Valkyrie rather than your beloved rockets thanks also for the highlight and personal shout-out, very much appreciated. please do keep us informed on these guys, i even love the winking lynx logo, very awesome, and looks like they have the right idea. i just hope they have the funding and resources to make it real in the next few years.
The first group of XCOR Lynx payload integration specialist firms include the following (in alphabetical order): the African Space Institute of Durban, South Africa; Cosmica Spacelines of Toulouse, France; NanoRacks of Lexington, Kentucky and Washington, D.C.; the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado; Space Chariots in Oxon, England; Space Experience Curaçao of the Netherlands and the Caribbean island of Curaçao; Spaceflight Services in Tukwila, Washington, Valencia, California, and Huntsville, Alabama; and Yecheon Astro Space Center, Yecheon, South Korea.
Dr. Alan Stern, Associate Vice President at SwRI, the former NASA Associate Administrator for Science and the Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation's Suborbital Researchers Group, said, "We are extremely excited about the capabilities that Lynx will bring to our many research clients at SwRI, so much so that we've already procured six flights for our own pathfinder and discovery missions to better understand how we can best serve our clients. As a trained researcher and test engineer, I can't wait to fly with my experiments on Lynx and ring out the processes and procedures that will help our clients succeed, and help our Institute stay at the forefront of the 21st century."
as usual you are right...XCOR builds an SSTO that can lift 1200 pounds now, proves it works for a few years, then we go up to several tons...then a couple decades later we got a proper SSTO. thanks as always for the reality check!
Spacecraft designer Xcor has revealed details of a plan to achieve first flight of the Lynx Mk1 later this year and to expand the suborbital market far beyond space tourism.
First flight for the Lynx already has been delayed by two years after XCor discovered a deep stall problem with the original Lynx design. That issue has now been overcome through design changes to the wing, allowing Xcor to begin final assembly within a few weeks.
The first major piece of structure - the fuselage of the Mk1 version -- will be delivered to Xcor the week of 16 January, said Andrew Nelson, chief operating officer and vice president of business development.
Next month, Xcor will tender work packages for building the cockpit pressure vessel and strakes in February, with delivery of the two subassemblies scheduled in April in May, said Khaki Rodway McKee, the Xcor programme manager.
Roll-out of the Mk1 is scheduled in July or August from Xcor's hangar in Mojave, California, she said.
Taxi tests are scheduled to begin in October or November, which will be quickly followed by a short hop and finally a brief first flight by the end of the year.
The Lynx Mk1 design will be limited to flight tests. For commercial operations, Xcor will roll-out a Mk2 version about nine months later with two major changes. The Mk2 aeroshell will be made with different material that is easier to maintain in the field. Secondly, the metallic liquid oxygen fuel tanks on the Mk1 will be replaced by a non-flammable composite material, McKee said.
Finally, a Mk3 version of the Lynx is still being designed. It will introduce a 3.4m-long, circular payload pay mounted on top of the fuselage. The added feature will allow the Lynx to launch satellites weighing up to 650kg into low-earth orbit.
Xcor has discovered the Mk3 will require more extensive design changes than first thought. The landing gear must be strengthened and aerodynamic effects may drive the designers to make tweaks to the outer mould line, Nelson said.
As first flight approaches, Xcor also has released a detailed market projection for its new product. Company officials are seeking to break the popular notion that suborbital spaceflight is aimed solely at the space tourism market.
Tourism will account for less than 10% of the roughly $6 billion "addressable market" Xcor anticipates for the Lynx by 2015, when the company envisions a growing fleet launching into space several times a day.
Another $1.1 billion in yearly sales is projected for launching payloads, as well as $1.4 billion in revenue for launching small satellites. Xcor also projects a $2.8 billion market for vehicle and equipment sales to third parties, including the possibility of selling the rocket engine to the United Launch Alliance as a replacement for the Pratt & Whitney RL10.
(RL-10 is an old reliable upper stage engine that needs updating. XCOR has experience with innovative rocket engines designed for high reliability - and they have lots of experience with methane fueled engines, which could be very, very useful for fuel depots and Mars)
XCOR Aerospace Closes $5 Million Round of Investment Capital
XCOR Aerospace reports that it recently closed a $5 million round of equity funding. The round, combined with cash on hand plus anticipated and existing contracts should fund the company through production of its Lynx Mark I Suborbital vehicle.
The financing included participation of new and previous investors. Among them are Esther Dyson, Pete Ricketts (co-owner of the Chicago Cubs) and several top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and former venture capitalists.
"We have chosen to announce this wonderful news at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference here in Silicon Valley because we believe the future of commercial space access will be driven by enterprise customers like the attendees here [today]," said Andrew Nelson, XCOR's Chief Operating Officer.
He added, "This investment represents a vote of trust and confidence in the markets represented by NSRC participants."
Jeff Greason, Founder and CEO of XCOR noted, "I believe we were able to raise funds in these trying economic times because XCOR has demonstrated compelling value to investors and customers. Our $60-plus Million backlog of orders for Lynx suborbital vehicles, flights on Lynx, and our unique reusable non-toxic rocket engines gives the investor community reason to take notice."
As part of this financing, XCOR is also happy to announce a reformulated Board of Directors. The directors include newcomer Esther Dyson, former venture capitalist Stephen Fleming, Chairman of the Space Studies Institute Dr. Lee Valentine, and company founders Jeff Greason and Dan DeLong.
Ms Dyson is well known for her perceptive early investments in the Internet, software and social media industries, her service on private and public corporate boards and foundations, and for leading NASA's Technology and Innovation Advisory Council.
Mr Fleming is a former general partner at the venture capital firm of ATV Partners and is now Vice President at Georgia Tech where he leads the Enterprise Innovation Institute. Dr Valentine is well known in the commercial space community for his leadership of the Space Studies Institute and his work with many early stage startup companies.
Work proceeds on the Lynx suborbital vehicle at XCOR. With the recent receipt of the Lynx Mark I fuselage, the continued testing of the liquid oxygen and kerosene propulsion system, the fielding of the non-toxic high performance bi-propellant reaction control system, and the recent release of request for quotes for the cockpit pressure vessel and wing strakes, XCOR is getting ever closer to first flight.
"While the recent and unprecedented disruptions in the capital markets have impacted every fledgling aerospace company, XCOR has weathered the storm and in 2011 we had our best year ever from a revenue and profitability perspective. And while the difficulties of the last few years have delayed the Lynx, we're excited about the challenges ahead.
"There is a lot of work and sizable risk in front of us, but XCOR continues its uncompromising commitment to safety and excellence. We remain focused on delivering our customers the coolest rocket plane on the planet," said Nelson.