Latest Images of XCOR’s Lynx Under Assembly

Chine panels being fitted to the side of the Lynx. (Credit: XCOR)
Chine panels being fitted to the side of the Lynx. (Credit: XCOR)

“You’re looking at our first fit-up of the chine panels to the sides of Lynx,” says XCOR Engineering Manager Brandon Litt.

These images are from XCOR’s September Lynx report.

Chines fitted against the side of the Lynx. (Credit: XCOR Aerospace)
Chines fitted against the side of the Lynx. (Credit: XCOR Aerospace)

The chines are pieces of aerodynamic faring that fill in the spaces between the aft side of the nose and the forward side of the strake. Inside the chines are the life support system and some of the manual controls from the rudder pedals and the stick.

“Up next, we are installing these on Lynx so that they are screwed onto the vehicle.” They will be removable in their final configuration.

Lynx nose structure. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx nose structure. (Credit: XCOR)

The primary nose structure is now mounted to the Lynx cockpit. The nose houses several reaction control thrusters and the nose gear assembly for Lynx. Up next, we will attach the nose gear and install several of the nose gear actuation subsystems.

 Lynx cowling (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx cowling (Credit: XCOR)

The Lynx cowling has just undergone its first fit check with the rest of Lynx. The cowling will soon be trimmed to final shape and installed on the back of Lynx. The cowling covers the engine truss, pumps and helium tanks. When finished, it will be installed in a top and bottom half, each independently removable. Access doors on both the port and starboard sides (or the left- and right-hand side) allow for routine maintenance.

XCOR mechanical engineer Tony Busalacchi works on qualifying the nose gear. (Credit: XCOR)
XCOR mechanical engineer Tony Busalacchi works on qualifying the nose gear. (Credit: XCOR)

“We have to qualify the nose gear before we fly, and one of the ways we do it is with our drop test rig,” says XCOR mechanical engineer Tony Busalacchi. By applying different weights on top of the landing gear the strut is being tested for its strength and stiffness. The strut, outlined in orange, is the framework that is designed to resist compression. The different forces working on the strut are analyzed with diverse sensors.

The next step is to modify the drop test rig to allow a full up test with flight loads, and then a little beyond flight loads so that XCOR achieves its margin of safety.

Eber West works on the landing gear drop tester. (Credit: XCOR)
Eber West works on the landing gear drop tester. (Credit: XCOR)

XCOR’s Eber West sets up the spindles, where weights will be placed on top of the gear drop tester.

  • First-Light

    slowly, but surely!

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    Keep fighting the good fight, XCOR. I’m rooting for you.

  • PK Sink

    Is it too soon to get excited?

  • Bill Douglass

    Is the Lynx going to have ejection seats?

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    No.

  • Sam Moore

    I wouldn’t get excited until it’s sat on a runway ready to fly.

  • Lee Powers

    Chines, nose, cockpit: so far, so good. Wings would be good, too. But there are no wings, because the subcontractor hasn’t delivered them yet. Why not? Because XCOR hasn’t ordered them yet … because XCOR still hasn’t finalized the design configuration.

    This from a company that’s been promising, twice a year for the last three years, first flight “about six months from now.” A schedule that slips one day per day? Hell of a way to run a railroad.

    It’s not a new problem. XCOR has been plagued from the start by piss-poor management, manifested most vividly in a series of disastrous hiring decisions … culminating last spring in the replacement of CEO Jeff Greason with John H. Gibson III: an ex-Pentagon retread who knows next to nothing about aerospace, nothing about engineering, and less than nothing about bootstrapping a new industry.

    According to Gibson, imposing “process” — that is, the hidebound bureaucracy of Big Aerospace — on a lean, dedicated, and flat-out brilliant crew of innovators will turn XCOR into a multi-billion-dollar star in the government-contractor firmament. This sort of magical thinking would have Pacific Islander cargo-cultists pointing and giggling uncontrollably.

    In classic Peter Principle form, Gibson has institutionalized the worship of incompetence. The company is hemorrhaging money (and not in a good way), and more than a few staffers have been promoted to positions stratospherically above their abilities.

    Morale on the design team is abysmal. It would need a telescope pointing straight up to see the bottom of Challenger Deep. Engineers who once eagerly put in 12-hour days have quit — no more unpaid overtime here. And the ones who haven’t left yet are racing for the time-clock before the whistle stops blowing — faster than the UAW rank-and-file in 1960s Detroit.

    And what, you may wonder, has the board of directors been doing all this time? In a nutshell, the square root of zilch. A cow staring at a new gate evinces more curiosity and initiative than this BoD has displayed during its entire collective existence. In fact, one might ask: if the board’s avowed intent were to drive the company into the ground, what would it be doing any differently?

    In any event, absent a massive — tens-of-millions massive — infusion of cash, like, Right Now, with 100% turnover on Executive Row and judicious application of the Clue Bat in the boardroom, it won’t be long before our last best hope for getting off this mudball turns into Monty Python’s parrot. Hello, EX-COR.

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