Brian Binnie Joins XCOR as Senior Test Pilot

Brian Binnie

Mojave, CA, April 3, 2014 (XCOR PR) – XCOR Aerospace announced today that celebrated aviator, test pilot, engineer and commercial astronaut Brian Binnie has joined the company as Senior Test Pilot.

As Senior Test Pilot, Binnie will be working with another celebrated pilot and astronaut, XCOR Chief Test Pilot and former Space Shuttle Pilot and Commander, US Air Force Colonel (Ret.) Richard (Rick) Searfoss.

“Brian and I have been friends and colleagues for many years and I have always wanted to work together in a flying environment,” noted Searfoss. “Combining our backgrounds as government and commercial astronauts and our broad experience across a number of rocket powered craft, I feel this builds on XCOR’s strong culture that emphasizes safety and professionalism.”


Video: Mojave Air & Space Port – The Modern Day Kitty Hawk

Video Caption: The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at the Mojave Air & Space Port. Mojave Air & Space Port CEO Stuart Witt highlights three visionary leaders – Jeff Greason, George Whitesides and Kevin Mickey – who are leading the private space revolution. Much like Kitty Hawk, North Carolina was the birthplace of the modern aviation movement, now Mojave, California has become the hot spot for emerging aviation and aerospace companies.

Extended Jeff Greason Video Interview

Video Caption: Andaaz goes to the Mojave Space Port in Southern California to talk with XCOR Aerospace. Space tourism is now a reality. Will you choose to go where only few have gone before?

In this edition, we ask Jeff Greason (the CEO/founder of XCOR Aerospace) some questions about what motivated him to get into the space tourism industry.

Check out the full show.

Jeff Greason Updates Lynx Status

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason inspects the Lynx main engine after a hotfire test while Chief Test Engineer Doug Jones looks on. (Credit: XCOR)
XCOR CEO Jeff Greason inspects the Lynx main engine after a hotfire test while Chief Test Engineer Doug Jones looks on. (Credit: XCOR)

Hi everyone.

I’m beginning to catch up on a lot of back posts from the Space Access and Planetary Defense Conferences I attended in Arizona. I was mostly Tweeting those events, so my blogging suffered a bit. I also wasn’t feeling all that well in Phoenix, so my Space Access output wasn’t up to what it was in previous conferences. I was pretty disappointed with what I was able to put out there for you all to read. Fortunately, I was feeling better by the time I got to Flagstaff.

We’ll start out with an overview of XCOR CEO Jeff Greason’s talk. Greason gave a very detailed and candid overview of progress on the Lynx suborbital space plane, which the company is hoping to get into the air late this year. He also touched upon the company’s move to Midland, the fully reusable orbital system XCOR is working on, and engine development work it is doing with United Launch Alliance.

Additional material will follow as I get caught up on my posts.


XCOR Putting The Pieces Together on Lynx

Aviation Week
has an update on XCOR’s development of the Lynx Mark 1:

Speaking to Aviation Week before the recent rocket test, Greason says aside from the continuing propulsion development work, the focus remains on assembly of the vehicle itself. “I’m happy with the progress, but not always with the schedule,” says Greason, who adds that the company “still has a way to go” before entry into service. We have a flight test program to go through, and there are times when we do a test and the pieces don’t all work.”

The major structural core of the initial Lynx Mk. 1 vehicle includes the cockpit pressure vessel, fuselage, liquid oxygen tank and strakes. “We’re focused on putting that together,” Greason says. After initial tests with the Mk 1, follow-on production Lynx Mk. 2 vehicles will be used for research and suborbital space tourism flights.

Read the rest of the story.

XCOR to Annouce Florida Plans on Thursday Morning

Full-scale mockup of XCOR's Lynx suborbital space plane. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
A full-scale Lynx mockup. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

XCOR Aerospace Announces Operations
  and Manufacturing Base in Florida

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll
XCOR CEO Jeff Greason
Space Florida President Frank DiBello
NASA-KSC Director Robert Cabana
NASA Chief of Staff David Radzanowski
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
EDC of Florida’s Space Coast President Lynda Weatherman
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex COO Bill Moore
Jacksonville Aviation Authority Sr. Manager of Aviation Planning & Spaceport Development Todd Lindner

XCOR Aerospace will announce details regarding its intent to establish a manufacturing and assembly center for XCOR Lynx Mark II suborbital reusable launch vehicles on Florida’s Space Coast.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Astronaut Encounter Theater
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Jacksonville Aviation Authority oversees Cecil Field, a former Naval Air Station that is now a licensed FAA spaceport.

A Space Florida rep tells me that this event will not be webcast, but officials are discussing holding a teleconference later in the day for media reps who can’t make it to KSC. I will cover that event if it occurs.


More on XCOR’s Midland Deal

A few notes on the XCOR move to Midland, Texas:

  • Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt has been told that the company is planning to maintain a presence at the California test center. Precisely what that presence would involve is unclear at the moment. [Read my Q&A with Witt]
  • The move won’t be immediate because XCOR is in the process of building the first Lynx space plane at its hangar in Mojave. Flight testing is set to begin at the end of this year or in early 2013.
  • XCOR CEO Jeff Greason and other company officials will be in Midland for a teleconference on Monday at 3 p.m. EDT/12 p.m. PDT. Officials from local government and the Midland Development Corporation will participate.
  • I saw Greason earlier today here in Mojave. He is not commenting publicly at this time.

UPDATE No. 1:  XCOR has released a short statement to the Antelope Valley Press:

“XCOR’s business model is to have operational bases at spaceports through the U.S. and, if allowed by the U.S. government, around the world. In the near future, we look forward to retaining a West Coast operational presence and establishing an East Coast presence.”

XCOR has been in talks with officials in Florida about building Lynx suborbital vehicles on and flying them from the Space Coast. Discussions were held last year; it’s not clear where those talks are at the moment.  Greason has been very clear that he wants to place the research and development and production arms of company to avoid R&D engineers from trying to solve production problems. The overall goal is to tightly control changes to production models and to ensure that the two parts of the company have distinct cultures.

Florida is seen as an attractive location because of its skilled workforce and the state’s willingness to financially assist companies looking to locate there. The state also has licensed spaceports at the Kennedy Space Center and at Cecil Field in Jacksonville.

 UPDATE No. 2:  The text in the first update has been changed and a link has been added to an earlier PA post to clarify that XCOR was in discussions with officials in Florida in 2011. Those efforts included an appearance by XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson before the Space Florida Board of Directors on Feb. 18, 2011, as mentioned in the original blog post. As mentioned, it’s not clear what the current status of discussions, if there are any, is at the moment.

CSF Sets Press Conference With Garver, Greason on Commercial Space

WASHINGTON D.C.(CSF PR) – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation will hold a press conference call on Thursday May 17th, at 2:00 PM EDT with CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, and XCOR Aerospace CEO Jeff Greason to discuss the state of the emerging commercial spaceflight industry. With the next COTS cargo demonstration flight coming up this weekend, this is a great moment to take stock of the commercial spaceflight industry, and the ways NASA and the industry are cooperating to expand our presence in space and bring space closer to all Americans.

Mojave Air and Space Port Gets a Little Love From the State

To boldly go.... (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

“California can have either all the regulation or all the business, but it can’t have both.”

That was the message delivered to a high-level state official who visited the Mojave Air and Space Port last week to see what Sacramento can do to help keep the burgeoning commercial space industry from moving to other states with fewer regulations, lower taxes and financial incentives.


Mojave Becoming Aerospace Epicenter

Dave Masten, left, and his crew continue working on the Xaero Rocket in the warehouse of Masten Space Systems at the Mojave Air & Space Port. Masten was on the cover of Aviation Week after winning a million dollar prize for his endeavors in the space field. (Casey Christie/The Californian)
Californian staff writer

MOJAVE AIR & SPACE PORT — Aerospace types love this rural desert location for its clear, dry weather, its sparse population and its comfortable distance from major news outlets.

But Dave Masten, CEO of Masten Space Systems, says there’s another reason his company stays in Mojave.

“The neighbors don’t complain,” Masten says with a grin.

“Even if you’re testing a rocket engine,” he says. “And rocket tests can be very loud.”

Long known as a place where space cowboys and scientist-entrepreneurs could carve out a niche in the specialized world of aviation and aerospace, Mojave Air & Space Port has grown — some might say grown up — in recent years to include ambitious, well-funded companies that are expected to deliver on the promise that the sky is no longer the limit when it comes to private space flight.