Virgin Galactic’s Will Pomerantz and XCOR Aerospace’s Khaki McKee both gave updates on their companies’ suborbital vehicles during the recent Houston SpaceUp conference. For the benefit of those who don’t have time to watch the full video above, I’ve summarized their presentations below in a convenient side-by-side table to allow for an easy comparison.
August 12, 2011, Mojave, CA (XCOR PR): NASA has selected XCOR Aerospace to provide suborbital flight and payload integration services for research and scientific missions in a program that will offer up to $10 million dollars in contracts to match payload customers with flight vehicle services. The awards were announced by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, a part of NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC that is managed at Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selected companies are:
— Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas — Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore. — Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif. — Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo. — Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif. — Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif. — XCOR, Mojave, Calif.
As part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.
SWRI — PR Boulder, Colo. — July 25, 2011 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced in February that it had contracted multiple suborbital flights for its own astronaut payload specialists as part of a larger effort to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight. Preparations for these flights are proceeding and will be flown on a combination SwRI manifest of XCOR Lynx I and Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 vehicles. The Lynx I missions will reach altitudes of about 200,000 feet; the SpaceShip 2 missions will reach altitudes near 350,000 feet.
PSI PR — The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) and XCOR Aerospace have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that lays the groundwork for flying the human-operated Atsa Suborbital Observatory aboard XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft.
The Atsa project will use crewed reusable suborbital spacecraft equipped with a specially designed telescope to provide low-cost space-based observations above the contaminating atmosphere of Earth, while avoiding some operational constraints of satellite telescope systems.
XCOR/MOJAVE, Calif. — In a first for the reusable suborbital launch vehicle industry, XCOR Aerospace announced today that the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), a commercial entity, has purchased six suborbital flights to carry SwRI experiments and payload specialists.Â This is the first such contract SwRI has issued, and XCOR is proud to be chosen for this opportunity.
XTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES PRESS RELEASE February 19, 2011
One of the nationâ€™s leading experts in space flight safety and risk assessment, Dr. Feng Hsu recently agreed to support suborbital space flight by helping guide the International affairs of Xtraordinary Adventures, a Florida space travel agency representing XCORâ€™s Lynx spaceplane.
The seven-state United Arab Emirates is quickly becoming the center of the Middle East’s space effort, with agreements with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital spaceport and Bigelow Aerospace to develop an orbital spaceflight program. In the process, it is riding the crest of a new commercial wave in how human spaceflight will be conducted.
NASA recently announced that it would be conducting contract negotiations for 350 projects under its SBIR and STTR programs, which are aimed at promoting space technology development by small businesses. Parabolic Arc will be looking at a number of the proposals involving NewSpace companies that it regularly covers or which encompass interesting technologies.
Cryogenic Composite Tank Fabrication for Reusable Launch Vehicles
Advanced Composite Tank and Materials Technologies
XCOR has conducted extensive research and development, and material characterization analysis of a nonflammable, high-strength, lightweight thermoplastic fluoropolymer composite material, trademarked NonburniteTM, which is suitable for making reusable, reliable, low cost cryogenic tanks and structures for space flight service.
Today KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced to the Netherlands press that they were embarking upon a new relationship with Space Experience CuraÃ§ao (SXC). KLM will be supporting future suborbital flights through purchases, inclusion in their frequent flyer program, inclusion in future KLM vacation packages to Curacao, and other yet-to-be-named support. The flights will be made on the XCOR Lynx suborbital spacecraft.
Dutch airlines KLM will handle ticket sales and promotions for Lynx suborbital flights out of CuraÃ§ao, according to media reports. KLM has registered for the first flight from the island in the Dutch Antilles, which is set for 2014. The company will enable frequent fliers to put their points toward flights into space. The flights, which will go to an altitude of 100 kilometers, are being managed by Space Experience CuraÃ§ao under a “wet lease” agreement with California-based XCOR.
This is a significant step forward for XCOR, an engineering-focused company that has had difficulty with its marketing and promotional operations. It has pre-sold a small number of tickets, many of them to the company’s investors.
A big shout out to Clark Lindsey at Hobby Space for finding this story.