XCOR Completes Lynx Simulator

XCOR’s senior test pilot Brian Binnie and senior engineer Erik Anderson performing a Lynx mission in the Simulator. (Credit: XCOR)
XCOR’s senior test pilot Brian Binnie and senior engineer Erik Anderson performing a Lynx mission in the simulator. (Credit: XCOR)

MOJAVE, Calif., November 16, 2015 (XCOR PR) – XCOR Aerospace announced today that it has completed work on its Lynx simulator system, built by Protobox LLC in conjunction with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

This simulator will provide XCOR invaluable training as the test pilot team prepares for Lynx flight test.

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Latest Images of XCOR’s Lynx Under Assembly

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

“You’re looking at our first fit-up of the chine panels to the sides of Lynx,” says XCOR Engineering Manager Brandon Litt.

These images are from XCOR’s September Lynx report. (more…)

Meet XCOR’s Latest Invention: The Trunnel

A modified F-250 pickup truck will be used for scale model Lynx testing. (Credit: XCOR)
A modified F-250 pickup truck will be used for scale model Lynx testing. (Credit: XCOR)

A while ago, I mentioned that XCOR had developed some cool things that it hadn’t publicized yet.  Here’s one of them.

Meet the trunnel. XCOR has modified a Ford F-250 pickup so that it conduct tests with a one-third scale model Lynx on the Mojave runway at 100 mph (160 kph).

Modified F-250 pickup truck conducting a tuft test. (Credit: XCOR)
Modified F-250 pickup truck conducting a tuft test. (Credit: XCOR)

It is now conducting tests (below) to make sure it has gotten the air flow right before putting a Lynx model on top.

The trunnel conducts a rudder test. (Credit: XCOR)
The trunnel conducts a rudder test. (Credit: XCOR)

They’ve also done tests on the rudder.

The trunnel (Credit: XCOR)
The trunnel (Credit: XCOR)

And off the trunnel rides into the Mojave sunrise.

I think once it completes tests on the Lynx, XCOR should lease thing out to a movie company as a supervillain or superhero vehicle. Or simple mount a gun and go bullseye some womp rats over in Beggar’s Canyon.

Midland Looks Forward to Lynx Flights Next Year

Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)
Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

Midland Spaceport Development Corporation President J. Ross Lacy said on Tuesday that he expects XCOR’s Lynx Mark I to make its first flight from Midland International Air & Space Port in the second quarter of 2016.

“Right now, we’re looking at XCOR to probably have their first launch here second quarter of ’16,” Lacy said during a MSDC meeting. “Orbital Outfitters’ building is moving along very nicely; they’ve also got the altitude chamber facilities inside that building. The XCOR hangar is almost complete, and we’ve already got half of their staff out here right now.”

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Lynx Flights 6-9 Months Away as XCOR Moves Staff to Midland

Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

The Midland Reporter-Telegraph has an update on XCOR’s progress on the Lynx and its move to Texas:

XCOR Aerospace has moved half of its staff to Midland as it attempts to juggle manufacturing demands back in Mojave, California with its shift to the Tall City.

The space company, which is developing the suborbital aircraft Lynx and orbital rocket engines for the United Launch Alliance project, has brought much of its ULA and administrative staffs to Midland while leaving many Lynx staff back in Mojave.

“There’s a lot going on in Mojave,” said XCOR mechanical engineer Mark Peck. “That’s one of the reasons for not moving everyone right now is because we just don’t want to take a month out of the build schedule.”

Peck estimated that XCOR is six to nine months away from the Lynx 1’s first flight. The main structure is complete and the wing mounts are being made. Once the craft is put together, the team in Mojave will do ground testing at the Mojave Air & Space Port. Peck cited the longer runway at Mojave and the ability to do extensive testing there without shutting down a commercial airport as reasons for doing the test back in California.

XCOR Signs Agreements with DLR, ESA-ESTEC

Credit: XCOR
Credit: XCOR

Here are a couple of short XCOR press releases related to agreements signed by CEO Jay Gibson in Europe back in May. One is an agreement with the German space agency DLR relating to medical screening protocols for Lynx passengers. The second involves a multi-party letter of intent Gibson signed with ESA-ESTEC and two other organizations to jointly develop a new space mission concept.

XCOR didn’t publicize the trip at the time, and the information only recently appeared on the company’s revamped website.

COLOGNE, Germany — XCOR’s CEO Jay Gibson signed an agreement with Professor Rupert Gerzer, General Director of the prestigious DLR Institute for Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, Germany on May 20.

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Citizens in Space Announces Experiments for First Lynx Flight

Lynx cub carrier (Credit: U.S. Rocket Academy)
Lynx cub carrier (Credit: U.S. Rocket Academy)

DALLAS (Citizens in Space PR) — Citizens in Space has announced the payload manifest for its first flight on the XCOR Aerospace Lynx spacecraft.

The experiments will be carried aboard the Lynx Cub Payload Carrier, an open-source payload carrier developed for the Lynx spacecraft by Citizens in Space. Experiments will be controlled in flight by a Citizens in Space science-mission-specialist astronaut.

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High-Altitude Balloon Flight Paves Way for Future Space Experiments

Credit: Citizens in Space)
Credit: Citizens in Space)

HOMOSASSA, Florida (Citizens in Space PR) — Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, announces the successful completion of a high-altitude balloon flight, the first in a series of missions to test hardware designed to fly on the Lynx spacecraft from XCOR Aerospace.

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XCOR Launches New Website, XCOR Science as New Brand

XCOR_Science
Mojave, CA, July 22, 2015 (XCOR PR) – XCOR today announced the redesign and re-launch of its flagship domain, XCOR.com. The new site includes each of the three XCOR brands in one space: XCOR Aerospace, manufacturer of XCOR Lynx spacecraft and rocket engines; XCOR Space Expeditions, offering Lynx ticket sales and Lynx astronaut trainings; and XCOR Science, the newest division of the company.

XCOR Science promotes suborbital research and education missions onboard Lynx for government, university and commercial customers, with a focus on the broad range of mission offerings onboard the spacecraft.

“Both the cost and pace of research flights in the current suborbital market made it impossible for most customers to engage in a meaningful pace of research in suborbital space,” Noted XCOR CEO Jay Gibson.  “XCOR Science makes that dream a reality, providing low-cost, high-frequency access to space four times each day.”

New interactive features and a dynamic user experience allow visitors to better explore Lynx capabilities, and XCOR as a whole. The site also supports the rapid growth of the company as it heads toward commercial flights.

XCOR to Hike Ticket Prices 50 Percent

Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

AMSTERDAM, July 16 (XCOR Space Expeditions PR) — XCOR Space Expeditions announced that it will be raising the price of a flight aboard Lynx from $100,000 to $150,000 effective on January 1st, 2016. With the spacecraft getting closer to completion, a major milestone for the company, the price will be raised to align more closely with the current market value of a commercial spaceflight.

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XCOR Hosted Customer Day at Hangar 3 Months Ago

XCOR_SXC_logoMojave, California, July 09, 2015 (XCOR PR) – XCOR Aerospace and XCOR Space Expeditions announced today that XCOR has hosted its first XCOR Lynx customer day-dubbed “Operation Hangar 61”. Directed by XCOR Space Expeditions, the experience included 41 guests from 14 countries and 5 continents visiting XCOR in Mojave and attending XCOR events in Los Angeles, including a tour of the California Science Center and Griffith Observatory.

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XCOR Receives Funding From Chinese Venture Capital Firm

Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

XCOR hasn’t announced this yet, but Haiyin Capital’s investment is listed on the venture capital firm’s website and was mentioned in a story by Fortune:

The trip is organized by Chinese venture capital firm Haiyin Capital, which just finished dispersing its third fund of $50 million into mostly U.S. tech startups like energy storage startup LightSail Energy, based in the Bay Area, solar tech startup 1366 technologies, located just outside of Boston, private space flight company XCOR Aerospace, in Mojave, Calif., and crowdfunding company AngelList (distributed offices)….

Haiyin Capital founding managing partner Yuquan Wang (pronounced “Yee-chwan”) uniquely straddles the U.S. and Chinese tech worlds; he teamed up with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan early on in his career and as a consultant helped China Mobile grow from almost nothing to the mobile juggernaut it is today. He started investing in both Chinese and U.S. tech startups about a decade ago.

Wang told Fortune in an interview that there are many promising young startups in the U.S. that can make really complicated high tech products, but have a problem reaching mass production. When startups are small and only at the R&D stage, their valuation is small and the big capital they need to get to the next level can’t be raised, he says. But they often need a big investment to reach that large manufacturing scale and to reach a big global market, which will eventually lead to a much bigger valuation. “It’s like a chicken-and-egg problem,” says Wang.

New XCOR Video

Video Caption: A Customer event by XCOR Space Expeditions, where ticket holders were invited to the Hangar in Mojave, to experience the build of Lynx and to meet its engineers and the founders behind this project.