Glasgow Prestwick Official Visits Midland

orbital_access_logoThe Midland Reporter-Telegram has an account of a visit by Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Spaceport Business Development Director Mike Stewart’s visit to the west Texas city to discuss cooperation. 

Glasgow Prestwick Airport wants to become a spaceport. It also hosts Orbital Access, a company owned by Stuart McIntyre that is working on an air-launched satellite delivery system.

McIntyre is the owner of Orbital Access, a Prestwick-based aerospace company that is pursuing the business of launching satellites. The company’s Orbital 500 project has a rocket payload carrying a satellite beneath a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Stewart said. The plane launches horizontally, climbs to 35,000 feet and the rocket separates while the plane is banking. The rocket heads to space, and a new satellite adds to the constellation of devices supporting the world’s technological demands.

Orbital and XCOR already have a relationship. They work together on development technology, Stewart said, and, as previously reported in the Reporter-Telegram in July, Orbital will oversee XCOR’s forthcoming Lynx launches from Prestwick. The Lynx is a two-passenger suborbital spaceplane under development.

The relationship between Orbital and XCOR has extended to Midland and Prestwick, which are in the early stages of creating a memorandum of understanding to lay out terms of who the spaceports will cooperate.

“Personally, I think that spaceports should be supporting each other,” Stewart said. He shared a presentation with the Reporter-Telegram that laid just how close Prestwick and the United States already are, a relationship dating back to World War II when all American-made planes passed through the airport on Scotland’s west coast for the U.K. to use in the war effort.

I have serious doubts that any Lynx flights forthcoming in the foreseeable future. XCOR laid off almost everyone involved in the program at the end of May, with just a skeleton crew left to maintain an institutional memory of the program. The company is seeking investment to revive the Lynx.
However, XCOR does have rocket engine technology that could be of use to Orbital Access. XCOR is developing an upper stage engine under contract to United Launch Alliance. It also had plans to launch nanosats using a rocket carried aloft by the Lynx.

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  • patb2009

    Until XCOR starts publishing specs on what their engines actually do, it’s unlikely they will be used in any product.

  • JamesG

    Apparently they already have a customer for it, ULA, who is probably paying so much more than the drips and draps of seed investor money they were getting for Lynx, that, yeah it was a no brainer to focus on that and kick their toy spaceplane to the curb. Sad but true. Gub’ment and the big primes are still the 800 lb. gorrillas in the aerospace (new or old) business.

  • Saturn13

    Athena -3 might yet fly. O-ATK, L-M has a contract with the UK to propose how they would launch it. Might be able to use this maybe spaceport. O-ATK ought to be able to use this study and the COTS proposal to launch from the east coast. I would love to see them launch a Cygnus with Athena-3. I guess the rocket would be made in UK. Other competition though.