Lynx Development Proceeds Towards First Test Flight

XCOR's Lynx suborbital vehicle

I’ve been hearing some good thing out of Mojave about XCOR. It seems that most of the funding is in place, the rest will soon be, and that work is coming along nicely on building the first test flight vehicle which the company hopes to fly by the end of the year.

A press release for the upcoming  Global Space & Satellite Forum (GSSF) in Abu Dhabi provides some additional details:

XCOR anticipates commercial flights in the US to start in late 2012, with production Lynx vehicles flying internationally by 2014. XCOR’s COO, Andrew Nelson said that the company continues to develop and produce safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies.

“We’re building the Lynx, have a robust wet lease order book and we’re making engines for other customers,” Nelson said. “We’re always delighted to talk to potential investors and partners interested to join us in our development programme.”

With Lynx commercial operations starting in 2012 and production deliveries starting later the following year, XCOR, has already signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for the ‘wet lease’ of Lynx vehicles, representing over $50m of back orders. The first two customers are Yecheon Astro Space Centre of South Korea and Netherlands-based Space Experience Curacao (SXC).

The Curacao agreement will see SXC market and XCOR operate, suborbital space tourism and scientific research flights out of Space Port Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. Furthermore, in an exciting development, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has signed on to co-market SXC flights and include them in their frequent flyer programme.

Of course, estimates on first commercial flights have been optimistic before (it’s perpetually 18 months away), the signs are pointing in the right direction. The big question is: Who will be first to fly commercially? XCOR or Virgin Galactic. I think Richard Branson would be pretty embarrassed if its the former.