Report: XCOR to Establish Lynx Production Facility, Operational Base in Florida

Lynx mockup. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Florida Today reports that XCOR will establish its Lynx production facilities and an operational base on the Florida Space Coast, most likely at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center:

The California company expects to create 152 jobs with this operations and manufacturing business, which it will announce at 10 a.m. on Aug. 23 at the Astronaut Encounter Theater at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

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Space Florida, the state’s space economic development group, has committed to investing up to $3 million in XCOR. And in late July, Brevard County commissioners approved $182,400 in incentives to help the company open a facility at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility. According to the company, the project would include hangar and flight operations, vehicle manufacturing, engine assembly and space tourism elements.

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The county incentives will act as a local match for nearly $1 million worth of state incentives for XCOR under the Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program.

A representative from XCOR, which was founded in 1999, told commissioners the company hopes to open its KSC center in October 2014. The 152 technical jobs, created over five years, would have an average wage of $60,833.

XCOR has its operations at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Last month, it announced plans to relocate its headquarters and research and development (R&D) facility to Midland, Texas in return for $10.25 million in incentives. The company plans to maintain operations in Mojave in order to fly it Lynx suborbital space plane from the desert spaceport.

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason has said that he wants to separate the R&D and manufacturing arms of the company. His goal is to prevent development engineers from trying to solve problems on the production line and vice versa. Greason wants each part of the company — R&D, production and operations — to develop distinct cultures.

The company is currently developing the two-person Lynx Mark I vehicle, with test flights expected by the end of this year or early 2013. The vehicle will be capable of flights reaching 203,000 feet (62 kilometers). Based on experience gained during the test program, XCOR will build the Lynx Mark II, which will have a maximum altitude of at least 330,000 feet (62 kilometers). The Lynx Mark III will have a dorsal pod that will contain a two-stage rocket capable of launching micro-satellites or groups of nano-satellites.

XCOR will fly paying passengers in the second seat on suborbital tourism rides for $95,000. The Lynx will also be used for microgravity experiments and for testing out space hardware. The vehicle is being designed to fly into space four times per day on an affordable basis.

The company has plans to follow up the Lynx with a fully reusable, two-stage vehicle capable of orbital flights. The carrier aircraft will take off from a conventional runway and air-launch the spacecraft, which would then fire its own engines to reach orbit.