XCOR Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Lynx suborbital space plane (Credit: XCOR)

MOJAVE, Calif. – Troubled XCOR Aerospace, a pioneer in reusable rocket engine technology, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court on Wednesday, according to court documents.

The filing will lead to the liquidation of the 18-year old company, whose engine technology was designed to power the two-person Lynx suborbital space plane XCOR was building. The vehicle, which was designed to take off and land on a runway, was only partially completed before most work on it stopped last year.

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Last of XCOR’s Founders Leaves Company

Doug Jones

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries is pleased to announce that Doug Jones, formerly chief test engineer at XCOR, is joining the company’s growing team as director of propulsion systems.

“We see Doug as one of the top rocket engineers in the country, and a great addition to our first-class team of small-spacecraft engineers,” said Bill Miller, the chief executive officer of Deep Space Industries.  “He will be helping us develop the high performance, inexpensive propulsion that is critical to radically lowering the cost of deep space exploration.”

Mr. Jones has designed, built and tested over a dozen different rocket designs for a wide range of customers, including two manned vehicles. Doug has decades of aerospace engineering experience ranging from liquid rocket engine design to vehicle system optimization, and has flown aboard a rocket aircraft multiple times while serving as flight test engineer during the development of the XCOR X-Racer.

“Doug Jones is joining DSI at the perfect moment to lead our in-house development of the high-performance propulsion system for our Prospector series of deep space missions,” said Grant Bonin, DSI’s chief technology officer. “We couldn’t be more excited.”

Editor’s Note: And then there were none. Jeff Greason, Dan DeLong and Aleta Jackson preceded Jones out the door. There are no more founders at XCOR.

XCOR Lays off Remaining Employees

Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

Struggling XCOR Aerospace has laid off its remaining employees in Mojave, Calif. and Midland, Texas.

“Due to adverse financial conditions XCOR had to terminate all employees as of 30 June 2017,” the company said in a statement. “XCOR management will retain critical employees on a contract basis to maintain the company’s intellectual property and is actively seeking other options that would allow it to resume full employment and activity.”

The move follows the news last month that CEO Jay Gibson was leaving the company after President Donald Trump nominated him for a high-level position at the Department of Defense. Gibson left the company at the end of June.

XCOR hired Gibson in March 2015 to replace founder Jeff Greason. The objective was for Gibson to focus on the business side while Greason focused on completing construction on the two-seat Lynx suborbital space plane.

That arrangement did not work out. By November, Greason and two other founders, Dan DeLong and Aleta Jackson, had left the company to found Agile Aerospace.

Greason, DeLong, Jackson and Doug Jones founded the company in 1999 after being laid off from Rotary Rocket.

In May 2016, XCOR laid off about 25 employees — roughly half of its workforce — and suspended work on the Lynx. The company has since refocused its energies on its rocket engine work.

XCOR had been working on an upper stage for United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan launch vehicle.

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Video Interview with XCOR’s Doug Jones

Video Caption: If you’ve ever dreamed of soaring to the stars, liftoff may be coming sooner than you think. Just ask XCOR’s Chief Test Engineer Doug Jones, who has designed a commercial suborbital spaceship that can fly up to four times a day, six days a week – sort of like an airplane. And for the low, low price of $95,000, you too can have a ticket to ride.

Reason Magazine’s Brian Doherty interviewed Jones live from Reason’s LA Studios.

Video: XCOR Chief Scientist Doug Jones

Video Caption: Known as the Rocket Whisperer, Doug Jones will be guiding the Salon’s quest to gain insight into the current state of advanced space technology and the future of things to come. Doug will speculate on the viability of using possible technological advancements such as space tethers, beamed power, gun launches, and electromagnetic sails as a means to realize humanity’s continued reach into the cosmos.

Doug is a Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at XCOR Aerospace. He handles test design and analysis of test results for the company?s liquid rocket engine development and facilitates the development and operation of rocket engine test apparatus. Before joining XCOR, Doug was responsible for sizing the fluid injector elements in Rotary Rocket Company?s (RRC) rocket engine design. Prior to RRC, Doug designed, built, and tested a 400 lb thrust nitrous oxide/propane engine, it’s test facility, and a 300,000 cubic foot balloon system for Vela Technology. Doug also flew multiple times as flight test engineer in the X-Racer rocket powered aircraft!