Jeff Greason Updates Lynx Status

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)

Hi everyone.

I’m beginning to catch up on a lot of back posts from the Space Access and Planetary Defense Conferences I attended in Arizona. I was mostly Tweeting those events, so my blogging suffered a bit. I also wasn’t feeling all that well in Phoenix, so my Space Access output wasn’t up to what it was in previous conferences. I was pretty disappointed with what I was able to put out there for you all to read. Fortunately, I was feeling better by the time I got to Flagstaff.

We’ll start out with an overview of XCOR CEO Jeff Greason’s talk. Greason gave a very detailed and candid overview of progress on the Lynx suborbital space plane, which the company is hoping to get into the air late this year. He also touched upon the company’s move to Midland, the fully reusable orbital system XCOR is working on, and engine development work it is doing with United Launch Alliance.

Additional material will follow as I get caught up on my posts.

Jeff Greason Presentation at Space Access
April 13, 2013

Lynx Status

  • Lynx not done yet. No technical showstoppers, just taking longer than they planned
  • 90/10 rule on development. First 90 percent of project takes 90 percent of time, last 10 percent takes 90 percent of the time.
  • In terms of propulsion development, we’re in great shape
  • Did recent 67-second engine test with funding from Boeing
  • Aerodynamics work is done and they are very happy with it.
  • Spent about 18 months trying to deal with the yaw issue.
  • Easy to get too much roll response to yaw at subsonic speeds, but not enough in supersonic speed
  • Used wind tunnel tests to resolve the issues
  • Created two protrusions (wing fences) on the underside of the wings to improve aerodynamic control
  • Landing gear and main gear are now built except from one part on main gear being fabricated.
  • Strakes are under construction and things are going well.
  • Cockpit is now under construction.
  • Nose design has been surprisingly difficult structurally. Things clicked 3 weeks ago and going through last last round of analysis.
  • Fit checks with pressure suit in cockpit engineering model
  • Have developed a high strength but light weight frame for the door‏
  • Lynx Mark I allows for weight growth which will be resolved with Lynx Mark II
  • More and more nanosat customers lining up for rides to orbit. Surprised by growth in interest.
  • Intention is to fly Lynx on two-hours notice.
  • Turnaround time goal based on experience with Rocket Racer
  • Did not have billionaire investors, needed to get paid to do something first (suborbital) before going to full orbital
  • Did not see how they could develop orbital system without first figuring out how to operate at low cost in suborbital space
  • Intention is to fly Lynx on two-hours notice.
  • Florida is in line as an operational site and for production line work assuming the demand develop for Lynx serial production
  • Wanted to separate R&D people in Midland from manufacturing people.

Orbital Vehicle

  • Suborbital Lynx is technologically traceable to our plans for an orbital system, while serving various markets
  • Not going to get low operations costs buy studying, you have to actually fly.
  • Orbital vehicle conceptual problems solved, lots of work ahead, goal is $1 million per person.
  • Orbital vehicle is carrier aircraft plus two rocket powered stages that would be fully reusable
  • Orbital system would use an existing aircraft (not custom-built); both rocket-powered stages would be reusable.
  • General comment: market studies of markets that don’t exist yet are, if you’re lucky, worth the paper they’re printed on.

Midland Move

  • Decision to move to Midland driven by challenges of doing business in California
  • Spent three months trying to figure out how to put in a new bathroom – however, they would have had to bring the entire XCOR hangar up to current building codes – the building was originally a 1942 temporary Marine Corps structure.
  • Move to Midland when they get their spaceport license and after we start flying the Lynx in Mojave assuming that the current schedule for flight test and spaceport licensing holds.
  • Had actually looked at the site before Midland called.
  • Lots of manufacturing infrastructure in Midland due to oil industry

ULA Work

  • Developing new engine for ULA
  • Replacement for the RL-10 engine used on Delta IV and Atlas V
  • Work is going very well