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  [Discuss] XCOR Aerospace's Lynx spacecraft

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] XCOR Aerospace's Lynx spacecraft
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 29348
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-26-2008 12:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: In an effort to keep the topic XCOR Aerospace's Lynx suborbital spacecraft focused on status updates, reader's feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss the development of XCOR's Lynx.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29348
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-26-2008 12:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wall Street Journal: Economy Fare ( $100,000) Lifts Space-Tourism Race
XCOR Aerospace of Mojave, Calif., the latest entrant to the derby to blast thrill-seekers into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, is expected to unveil plans Wednesday for a rocket-powered vehicle that is substantially smaller, slower and less expensive to build than any of those proposed by rivals. With tickets projected at $100,000 a pop, the low-fare carrier to the heavens would hardly be cheap.

Anticipated to cost less than $10 million to build and to be more compact than many propeller planes used by recreational pilots, XCOR's Lynx vehicle is intended to carry a pilot and a single passenger at twice the speed of sound to about 37 miles above the earth. The entire outing, which would begin and end at a conventional airport and include about two minutes of suborbital zero gravity, would take less than half an hour.

...at Wednesday's news conference in Los Angeles, XCOR's management and private backers also are expected to announce a symbolic first in combining private and federal efforts. The Air Force Research Laboratory has agreed to use the Lynx as a platform to test the performance of space hardware in an actual zero-gravity environment. Instead of investing hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to build a satellite and then worry about how various components or subsystems will work in orbit, military officials are looking to leverage private investment to assess reliability during brief suborbital missions. By balancing private investment with federal dollars, XCOR has focused on steady growth and shied away from overly optimistic projections.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29348
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-26-2008 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to their website, XCOR's Lynx will have a maximum altitude of 61 km (37 miles or 200,000 feet).

So for half the price of Virgin Galactic's ticket, you get just slightly more than half the altitude.

However, Lynx's passengers won't cross into space like those on SpaceShipTwo.

E2M Lem Man
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From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-26-2008 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
So for half the price of Virgin Galactic's ticket, you get just slightly more than half the altitude.
Yes that is correct, but you won't have to wait for the other passengers, as there are none! It's small size precludes that they will be ANY competition to SpaceShipTwo. The side-by-side seating also means that you will get a better view - from your side of the cockpit. The former Xerus design only had small windows for the passenger.

It is a nice design that reminds me of the Convair spaceplane designs of the 1950's, as well as the old Soviet and HL-20 ideas.

It is a good idea for a research craft.

As I have seen this design mature, I wish my former employer good luck with this concept. It was a great concept.

FFrench
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From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-26-2008 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This looks like a great, affordable concept, a good idea, and I wish them all the very best.

However, the press releases and media stories I am seeing about this seem to be a little loose with their language. With the media, misreporting is understandable, but the company's press releases should always be accurate and honest. With the releases given above, I have concerns in this regard.

An aerospace vehicle that can only reach 37 miles high, while being able to replicate many spaceflight conditions (brief zero gravity, above most of earth's atmosphere, technology needed for such high altitude flight) is still far, far short of being 'in space'. About 40 kilometers short, in fact, under standard definitions, and short by all others that I know of.

So calling it a 'suborbital spaceship' repeatedly in press releases is, surely, misleading in its accuracy? For a company looking to attract investment and business, this kind of easily-checked fact is important. Unless I am missing something?

From the information I see above, this vehicle incorporates many of the technologies needed for suborbital spaceships. But in terms of its flight envelope, it has no more right to use that name than, say, a Boeing 747. It simply does not fly suborbitally in space.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29348
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-26-2008 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FFrench:
From the information I see above, this vehicle incorporates many of the technologies needed for suborbital spaceships. But in terms of its flight envelope, it has no more right to use that name than, say, a Boeing 747. It simply does not fly suborbitally in space.
According to the Wall Street Journal (from the same article linked above), while this first version of Lynx won't be able to reach space, later versions will.
In the future, XCOR aims to roll out a more powerful version of the Lynx, featuring dual engines so it can climb higher and different composite materials able to withstand higher temperatures during descents. Such a spaceship also could be optimized to launch small satellites for a fraction of what it now costs the Pentagon, government scientists or academic researchers to put such payloads into orbit. On the tourism side, XCOR hopes to entice somewhat less well-heeled prospective customers than those targeted by Mr. Branson. Simplicity and small size, XCOR officials argue, will trump extravagant cabin interiors and aggressive marketing tactics. "The best part of it all," says Rick Searfoss, a former Space Shuttle commander and now an XCOR test pilot, is that passengers "will ride up front, like a co-pilot, instead of in the back, like cargo."

FFrench
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Posts: 3098
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-26-2008 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert, that makes a little more sense. So, they are still not, as they state, unveiling a "new suborbital space vehicle." Rather, they are unveiling a new aircraft which, in the future, may be able to be redesigned and upgraded so the next version would be a space vehicle.

And as their press release today makes no mention of this possible upgrade and this vital difference, I would still have to say it is very misleading. If I were them, for the sake of honesty, I would reword it.

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