XCOR Layoffs Primarily Impacted Lynx Team

Engine hot fire (Credit: XCOR)
Engine hot fire (Credit: XCOR)

An update on the XCOR layoffs….

The layoffs primarily affected the team working on the Lynx suborbital space plane. Some employees involved in the program remain. However, work on building the spacecraft has been suspended for the time being.

Engineers working on XCOR’s rocket engines have been retained. Their main work will involve an engine for United Launch Alliance’s ACES upper stage. Some work will continue on Lynx’s engine and control thrusters.

Sources are indicating that XCOR laid off about 25 employees on Friday, which they say was just under half of the company. The exact head count before the staff reductions is unclear. Sources say around 50; however, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported in January that XCOR had 63 employees at the time.

Staff remain employed at XCOR’s main headquarters in Mojave, Calif., and at its hangar in Midland, Texas.

XCOR Layoffs Update

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

From what I’m hearing, the layoffs are part of a retrenchment to focus on projects that are bringing in revenue, such as the upper stage engine XCOR is developing for ULA. It appears that many people working on the Lynx suborbital space plane were laid off.

The company’s burn rate — what it was spending every month — was just too high, especially as it is maintaining facilities in Mojave, Calif., and Midland, Texas. It’s also been a while since XCOR has made any announcements about new fundraising rounds.

(more…)

Layoffs at XCOR Aerospace This Morning

Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

I’m getting reports about layoffs at XCOR this morning at their operations in Mojave and Midland. I don’t have a precise number, but it seems to have been a significant staff reduction. Some of the folks working on Lynx were let go. Another employee posted on Facebook that this was his last day because he was going to work for SpaceX in Florida.

I don’t know what this means for the company or for the Lynx space plane project. I will provide some more details when I know them.

Stu Witt Has Not Joined XCOR’s Advisory Board

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Midland TX, April 4, 2016 – An error has occurred in the previous press release. In contrary to that statement Stu Witt has not joined XCOR’s Advisory Board.

John H. (Jay) Gibson II, CEO of XCOR Aerospace: “Stu Witt has been a good friend to the space industry and XCOR for many years via his leadership role at the Mojave Air and Spaceport. As Stu has transitioned into his next career, we have remained in touch, however, at no point have we gone any further to include Stu taking on an official position within our Advisory Board as announced, and we regret our previous press release wrongfully stated otherwise.”

Boldly Going Where 14 Men Have Gone Before

For nearly a dozen years, Virgin Galactic has used the number of individuals who have flown into space as a target to shoot for once the company began suborbital space tourism service. Virgin promised to double the number, which was around 500 when the company launched in 2004, within the first year of operation. That year was originally targeted for 2007 in the confident days after the success of SpaceShipOne.

That goal has long since faded away, and it’s unlikely Virgin will double the number of space travelers during the first year. In any event, the number of space travelers cited by Virgin has always been a bit misleading. The company’s well heeled customers, who are paying upwards of $250,000 per flight, will actually be joining a much more elite group on their suborbital flights.

(more…)

XCOR Announces New Board Members and Advisors

XCOR CEO Jeff Greason
Jeff Greason

MIDLAND, Texas, March 30, 2016 (XCOR PR) – The board of directors at XCOR Aerospace is seeing new additions, and with immediate effect the board welcomes 3 new members: Charles Thomas (Tom) Burbage, Michael Gass and Arthur Bozlee.

Former board members Jeff Greason, Stephen Flemming and Michiel Mol gave up their board seats to allow for these new members. Michiel Mol, XCOR’s biggest shareholder, will remain actively involved in the company’s daily operations.

All new members have prominent previous experience in the air and space industry.

(more…)

XCOR Partners With Clothing Supplier Blåkläder

Lynx cockpit view. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx cockpit view. (Credit: XCOR)

SVENLJUNGA, Sweden, March 10, 2016 (Blåkläder PR) — Swedish based Blåkläder, widely respected as one of the world’s best producers of quality work clothes, is accustomed to finding its customers at high altitudes and in hazardous work conditions, but the company has been limited to providing clothing for earth-bound humans. This is all set to change with the announcement of an exciting new partnership with American space travel pioneer XCOR Aerospace.

(more…)

Video Tour of XCOR

Video Caption: Former fighter pilot Harry van Hulten, now Director of Flight Testing for XCOR Aerospace, takes Space.com inside the hangar/factory housing the Lynx prototype, at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. With a unique automotive-style engine that can restart many times a day the sub-orbital spaceplane will fly often, giving the private spaceflight company a sharp edge over the competition. — Lynx Space Plane in Pictures: http://goo.gl/V80PEi

DARPA Requests $50.5 Million for XS-1 for FY 2017

XS-1 vehicle (Credit: Boeing)
XS-1 vehicle (Credit: Boeing)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is requesting $175.24 million for fiscal year (FY) 2017 for the development of space systems and technology, an increase of $48.5 million over current fiscal year spending.

The ambitious XS-1 program, which aims to develop fully-reusable launch vehicle system, once again tops DARPA’s space spending with proposed spending of $50.5 million. The program received $30 million for FY 2016.

(more…)

Who Will Become the World’s First Commercial Spaceline?

New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)
New Shepard booster executes a controlled vertical landing at 4.2 mph. (Credit: Blue Origin)

With Blue Origin’s successful re-flight of its reusable New Shepard booster and capsule on Friday, the company jumped ahead in the competition to fly people into space on a commercial basis.

(more…)

Stu Witt Retires From Mojave Spaceport in Style

Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

They came to Mojave from near and far — from the dusty desert communities of Lancaster, Boron and Ridgecrest to the snow swept tundra of Sweden — to send Stu Witt off in style. One of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. played hooky from Congress to wish his friend a happy retirement.

Hundreds of people gathered on Jan. 8 to mark the end of Witt’s nearly 14-year term as CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port. The event featured a reception and a long parade of friends and colleagues singing his praises.

(more…)

XCOR, Midland Work Out Deal on Texas Hangar

XCOR_SXC_logoThe Midland Development Corporation and XCOR have struck a deal relating to the company’s hangar in Texas.

XCOR agreed to give Hangar A — or half of the building XCOR occupies at the Spaceport Business Park — back to the city. The more than 40,000-square-foot space would cost about $7.5 million to build, which is the same amount of tax revenue that MDC gets in one year.

XCOR will also pay $6,000 a month to lease its remaining half, or Hangar B.

In exchange, the MDC passed an agenda item reimbursing XCOR for about $795,500 for improvements to Hangar A…

(XCOR has) come to the conclusion that they basically had more space than they really needed at this point,” said Robert Rendall, MDC board member. “At the same time, we had prospects that are interested in coming to the Spaceport business park, so it was just a good opportunity for us to relook at their needs and our needs and possibly provide space for other companies that wanted to come in without having to build them a building right now.”

Read the full story.

XCOR Engineers Announce Major Breakthrough in Engine Technology

Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)
Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

MOJAVE, Calif., 14 December 2015 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Director of Engineering and acting CTO Michael Valant announced today that his team has reached an important milestone in the development of the reusable 5K18 Lynx main propulsion rocket engine. His engineers were able to ‘close the loop’ of the thermodynamic system under test conditions, a key technology for the Lynx sub-orbital vehicle.

(more…)

Sidewalks Defeat Spaceflight in Mojave

SpaceflightvsSidewalkspollParabolic Archers have spoken, and they have confidence in Kern County than they do in two of Mojave’s space companies.

Seventy-four percent of voters said that Mojave would get sidewalks before either XCOR or Virgin Galactic flew their vehicles above the Karman line at 100 km. Only 26 percent of voters expended the opposite result.

The majority is probably correct here. Barring any significant delays, work is expected to begin on sidewalks for downtown Mojave toward the end of 2016. It’s not clear how long it will take to complete, but the work is unlikely to stretch out very long.

Meanwhile, XCOR is still building the Lynx Mark I, which cannot get above the Karman line. And Virgin Galactic is building the second SpaceShipTwo, which might or might not be able to reach that altitude.

I’ve posted a new poll about the battling space billionaires. Vote on whether you are on Team Allen, Team Bezos, Team Branson or Team Elon,

As I always say: Vote early. Vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote!

 

Video: XCOR CEO John Gibson at ISPCS

Video Caption: Just as many companies in rapidly evolving industries, XCOR is seeking how to be market relevant and profitable in the next stages of its lifecycle. My role and challenges reflect the evolution of the company and the focus on translating current and future market opportunities into a successful, private enterprise. Experience in the civil aviation sector brings many insights and parallels to this market evolution and its future opportunities.