Departed XCOR Founder Establishes Consulting Group

agile_aero_logoXCOR Founder Jeff Greason, who departed the company this week, has established an aerospace consulting operation called Agile Aero. The group has a website that was created on Nov. 17 for which Greason is listed as the registrant. The following description is on the website:

Agile Aero, Inc. is a group of aviation and aerospace professionals with expertise in many aspects of advanced aerospace vehicle design, construction, and operations; rocket propulsion; and the regulatory environment for these activities.

We provide consulting services in these areas, but our focus is on a larger goal. We have seen in our careers many advanced aerospace projects falter because of the long development cycle for custom aerospace vehicles. In recent years, there have been breakthroughs in rapid development and prototyping of rocket engines, of satellites, and of many subsystems for advanced vehicles. But the integrated vehicles are still developed with older, slower methods. Agile Aero intends to bring modern rapid prototyping to complete vehicles, for space launch, for hypersonic air vehicles, and for innovative aircraft.

Two Founders Depart XCOR, Greason Remains on Board

Jeff Greason
Jeff Greason

MOJAVE, CA, November 23 (XCOR PR) —  XCOR Aerospace announced earlier today that two of its original founders, Chief Technology Officer Jeff Greason and Chief Engineer Dan DeLong, are stepping back from their current positions. With the first Lynx closer to completion, both want to turn their attention to pursue other interests. The two stood at the cradle of the Lynx reusable launch vehicle and have been working painstakingly on the revolutionary spacecraft for the last years. Greason will maintain his position on the company’s Board of Directors.

XCOR CEO Jay Gibson: ‘Both Jeff and Dan are true pioneers in our business. It’s their vision and their perseverance that helped us getting to where we stand now. We owe both men a lot of gratitude for all the time, energy and groundbreaking ideas they have been contributing to our company and the industry and of course we look forward to possibly working together in the future. Lynx is now in the good hands of XCOR’s highly capable and talented Technical, Engineering and program teams. 2016 Will be an exciting year in which we’re about to reach some truly significant milestones. Lynx will be the world’s first Instantly Reusable Launch Vehicle (I-RLV) and over 350 clients are as eager as we are to undertake the first trip into space. Next to that we will keep investing in our own facilities in both Mojave and Midland, where LYNX’s orbital successor will be one of the strategic focus points.’

Editor’s Note: A third founder, Aleta Jackson, has also left XCOR. She’s not speaking about it on the record at the moment.

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.

CSF Adds New Member Companies

CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomed several new member companies at its Executive Board meeting this week, expanding its membership to more than 60 companies.

Spaceport Camden of Camden County, Georgia joined CSF as an Executive Member. Steve Howard, Spaceport Camden project leader, will represent his organization on the CSF Board of Directors. “CSF’s mission strategically aligns with Camden’s goals, and we are pleased to join other industry leaders as part of this organization,” Howard said.

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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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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.

Andrew Nelson Joins Spaceport Camden Project Team

camden_county_sealWOODBINE, Ga. (Camden County PR) — The Camden County Board of Commissioners and County Administrator Steve Howard are pleased to announce the recent addition of Andrew Nelson to the Spaceport Camden Project Team.

Nelson is a recognized leader in the commercial space sector with a diverse background leading innovative entrepreneurial space companies, the development of new regulatory environments for the industry and working with governments on the formation of spaceports and operational sites for the industry.

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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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