XCOR Assets to be Auctioned Off

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

An update on XCOR from Bloomberg:

Motion for Asset Sale Filed by XCOR Aerospace, Inc.
Jan. 26, 2018

XCOR Aerospace Inc., filed a motion in the US Bankruptcy Court for the sale of its certain assets on January 26, 2018. The debtor seeks the Court’s approval for the sale of its certain assets to highest bidder, for a purchase price of $1 million in cash pursuant to the asset purchase agreement. The debtor’s assets include personal property of debtor. The initial minimum overbid should be $0.01 million more than the initial purchase price. At the auction, the subsequent bids would be in increments of $0.1 million. The buyer would be entitled to a break-up fee of $0.01 million & administrative expense reimbursement of $0.02 million to trustee. The sale hearing is scheduled for February 20, 2018.

  • ajp

    So tragic. It was such a cool vehicle with even cooler rocket tech.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, it is what happens when you let vulture capitalists invest in your firm.

  • delphinus100

    Damn shame. I had high hopes for those guys. Higher than for Virgin Galactic…

  • ThomasLMatula

    I hope Mojave gets something to put in their museum to remember them by.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Like the old saying, you know how to become a millionaire in aerospace? Start off as a billionaire. You need a cushion of at least hundreds of millions to bring to the table before you get involved with something like this, and customers don’t hurt either. Hopefully the IP can be reused at some point.

  • Nathan Lewis

    I never understood XCOR. I never understood how using pistons was going to deliver any great benefit. Rocket engines are a niche application. Electron makes far more sense to me.

  • duheagle

    I don’t think anywhere near that much money is needed for an opening ante. XCOR never had anywhere near even a single $100 million over its entire history. And it got pretty far along its intended path on a relative pittance. XCOR’s failure is unfortunate, but neither the founders nor any of their long-term troops have anything to be ashamed of.

  • duheagle

    Not sure it would be accurate to characterize the Gass House Gang as capitalists, even of the vulture stripe. But, yes, Greason’s fatal mistake was in letting that particular pack of camels get their noses inside his tent.

  • duheagle

    The main advantages of piston pumps are simplicity of engineering, lack of need for exotic materials as the hot parts are heated only intermittently, not continuously, and the ability to fabricate them on very basic, even manual, machine tools. Piston pumps also have throughput rates that are essentially linear with RPM.

    Electron is a good design. The electric-drive turbopumps also obviate the need for exotic materials as they replace what would otherwise be a continuous high-temp drive system.

    Startup rocketeers would be well advised to steer very clear of high-temperature turbopump drives. SpaceX could do the opposite because Elon was fortunate enough to land Tom Mueller very early on. The supply of Muellers is quite limited.

    SpaceX also started with more money in-hand than most present-day small launcher startups. So did Virgin Galactic/Orbit which uses turbo-driven turbopumps on LauncherOne.

    XCOR, with piston-driven piston pumps, Rocket Lab, with electric-drive turbopumps, and Vector, with all pressure-fed engines, are among those with leaner resource bases that have adopted alternative approaches for both cost and engineering reasons.

  • redneck

    I would be willing to argue that most rocket application turbopumps have been poorly handled in systems engineering for the intended use. But not here as the discussion would go well beyond the tolerance of Doug and most other readers here. The concepts were in Selenian Boondocks a few years back.

    I’ll accept that few will believe me and let it go at that.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    “got pretty far along”

    Not really. Designing and constructing a wing that has good aero and thermal characteristics from hypersonic, supersonic to sub-sonic is not cheap or easy. Notice what’s missing?

  • patb2009

    Piston pumps max out. There is a reason why all the high performance aircraft went to turbines ( Learjet, 707, F-86, F-16)…

    Piston pumps just wont get you the higher end of performance.

  • patb2009

    They can buy the Lynx, stick a fiberglass wing on it, and put it across from the Roton.

  • MzUnGu

    It’s not the engines nor the pumps, it’s the market that’s not there. and a design that only takes one person up at a time is just dumb in view of the economic of scale. Their management don’t have the background in business, nor the technical savvy, nor the marketing genius to pull it off.

  • MzUnGu

    What exactly did the investor do that doomed them?

  • Nathan Lewis

    I appreciate your answer because it sheds light on another thing that has baffled me. Why didn’t Musk take the Electron approach especially when you consider he’s also in the batteries and electric motors business. I guess the answer must be that battery technology wasn’t good enough at the time. Electron seems to have proven that it is now. Rocket reuse would be much easier. Swap out the battery/batteries and away you go again. The simplicity and reliability of electric motors cannot be beaten as far as I know. So I take it that Tom Mueller’s engines are so much better in power to weight ratio that they justify the extra millions of dollars and the extra years of development time. I haven’t heard the Electron people say anything about trying to recover their first stage. Is that not possible with the power to weight of the current state of the art in batteries? One last question. How likely is it that the Electron people are buying their batteries from Telsa?

  • publiusr

    If I were Bezos, I would help them out with my Billions–just a few more million.

  • patb2009

    XCOR operated for approximately 20 years. How much product revenue did it produce, and How much investor capital did it consume?