SXC Update on XCOR Lynx Progress

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason inspects the Lynx main engine after a hotfire test while Chief Test Engineer Doug Jones looks on. (Credit: XCOR)
XCOR CEO Jeff Greason inspects the Lynx main engine after a hotfire test while Chief Test Engineer Doug Jones looks on. (Credit: XCOR)

Here are a couple of updates from SXC on the progress of XCOR’s Lynx program. In the first update, SXC Founder Harry van Hulten reports on his recent visit to XCOR in Mojave. The second update provides some more general information about XCOR.

Harry van Hulten Visits XCOR

I visited XCOR recently and was again impressed by the amount of progress. XCOR recently reached a historic milestone by completing a series of rocket motor tests, which evaluated one full pump fed rocket motor mounted on a flight weight fuselage and engine thrust structure in the Lynx Mark I configuration. The last test in the series included a 67 second run, which was successfully completed. The 67 seconds was the maximum amount of time achievable with the smaller test liquid oxygen (LOX) tank.

After this test, the engines, pumps and fuselage were disassembled for inspection and update for lessons learned. Also, I saw the fuselage being finished for installation of the full sized LOX tank. Once that is complete the next phase of rocket motor testing will commence, which will include the ‘flight’ LOX tank.

Shock diamonds are visible during a test of the Lynx main engine. The diamonds are an interaction between supersonic gasses escaping from the engine and the pressure of earth’s atmosphere. (Credit:  XCOR)
Shock diamonds are visible during a test of the Lynx main engine. The diamonds are an interaction between supersonic gasses escaping from the engine and the pressure of earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: XCOR)

Before the Lynx Mark I is ready to fly, a few more milestones still have to be passed in the propulsion area: final components need to be configured and some new components will be installed and tested like the exhaust nozzle. Eventually, a full mission duration burn will be accomplished (between 150 and 180 seconds) and the other three engines will be installed. In order to fly early lower altitude flight tests at least two engines will be needed. Simultaneously a lot of work was completed on smaller parts like the windowsills and other subsystems.

XCOR is eagerly awaiting delivery of several major components like the wing strakes, cockpit section and wings. Once all components have been delivered, it will take a good 2-3 months to assemble the Lynx Mark I.

Once the assembly of the Lynx Mark I is completed the ground tests will be conducted before the first flight can take place. These tests include (sub) system checks, taxi and brake tests, and small runway hops. Once these are good, we are (finally!) ready for the first “up and away” flight! Fingers crossed!

Jeremy Voigt prepares to test fire the Lynx main engine at XCOR’s test site on the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. (Credit: XCOR)
Jeremy Voigt prepares to test fire the Lynx main engine at XCOR’s test site on the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. (Credit: XCOR)

Latest Updates and Developments of Our Partner XCOR

The team at XCOR is working hard to complete the prototype Lynx spacecraft and at the same time they are planning for the company’s expansion to Midland, Texas in 2013.

XCOR is creating a new state-of-the-art research and development flight test center that will enable sustainable growth over the coming decades.

The new facility will benefit us all and allow further growth of XCOR and the development of future products such as a fully reusable orbital system in the coming years.

Therefore, for the above-mentioned reasons, we are expecting the Lynx roll out to take place at some point after the summer of this year.

Upon completion and after settling into the new facility, XCOR will be able to present the Lynx to the world at a grand unveiling event.

Rest assured, as soon as we know the exact date, we will communicate it accordingly in order to facilitate your trips towards the venue.

We can’t wait to see the Lynx prototype as soon as possible and the move to Midland will have a positive effect on the overall test program. As always, safety is at the forefront of the XCOR and SXC team’s thoughts and actions, and as we progress through the program we will keep you informed at every reasonable step.