XCOR Lynx

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lynx
Lynx spaceplane mockup.jpg
Mockup of Lynx spaceplane
FunctionCrewed suborbital launch and reentry
ManufacturerXCOR Aerospace
Size
Stages1
First stage
Engines4
Thrust2,900 pounds
PropellantLOX-kerosene

The XCOR Lynx was a proposed suborbital horizontal-takeoff, horizontal-landing (HTHL), rocket-powered spaceplane that was under development by the California-based company XCOR Aerospace to compete in the emerging suborbital spaceflight market. The Lynx was intended to carry one pilot, a ticketed passenger, and/or a payload above 100 kilometres (62 mi) altitude. The concept was under development since 2003, when a two-person suborbital spaceplane was announced under the name Xerus.

In January 2016, XCOR changed plans for the first flight of the Lynx spaceplane. It was initially planned for the second quarter of 2016 from the Midland spaceport in Texas,[1] but, in early 2016, it was pushed to an "undisclosed and tentative" date at the Mojave spaceport.[2]

In May 2016,[3] XCOR announced development of the Lynx had been halted with layoffs of approximately one-third of the staff; the company intended to concentrate on development of their liquid hydrogen rocket under contract with United Launch Alliance, instead.[4]

Following the bankruptcy of XCOR Aerospace in 2017, the assets of the company were sold to the nonprofit organization Build A Plane, which will focus on education rather than suborbital flight.[5]

History[edit]

Xerus[edit]

In 2003, XCOR proposed the Xerus (pronunciation: zEr'us) suborbital spaceplane concept. It was to be capable of transporting one pilot and one passenger as well as some science experiments. It would even be capable of carrying an upper stage which would launch near apogee and, therefore, would potentially be able to carry satellites into low Earth orbit.[6] As late as 2007, XCOR continued to refer to their future two-person spaceplane concept as Xerus.[7]

Lynx[edit]

The Lynx spaceplane was initially announced in March 2008, with plans for an operational vehicle within two years.[8] In December 2008, a ticket price of US$95,000 (equivalent to US$119,565 in 2021) per seat was announced, with flights intended to commence in 2010.[9] The build of the Lynx Mark I flight article did not commence until mid-2013 and XCOR claimed that the first flight would take place in 2015.[10][11] In July 2015, ticket prices increased by 50% to US$150,000 (equivalent to US$171,480 in 2021).[12] In November 2015, three co-founders left their existing positions with the company to start Agile Aero. Dan DeLong (Chief Engineer) and Aleta Jackson left the company entirely, while Jeff Greason, the former CEO, remained on the Board of Directors until he resigned in March 2016.[13] Greason cited problems with the Lynx vehicle body, although the engine had been a success. As of mid 2016, development was suspended in favor of a ULA contracted hydrolox engine, the 8H21.[4]

Passengers who had hoped to make flights in the Lynx included the winners from the Axe Apollo Space Academy contest and Justin Dowd of Worcester, Massachusetts, the winner of another contest called the Race for Space.[14] Metro International's Race for Space newspaper contest.[15] By July 2015, the passenger ticket was projected to cost US$150,000.[16] As of December 2015, Kayak.com was reportedly selling tickets for flights on the XCOR Lynx starting in 2016.[17]

In May 2016, the company halted development of the Lynx spaceplane and pivoted company focus toward development its LOX/LH2 engine technology, particularly on a funded project for United Launch Alliance. The company laid off more than 20 people of the 50–60 persons on board prior to May.[4]


Description[edit]

The Lynx was intended to have four liquid rocket engines at the rear of the fuselage burning a mixture of LOX-Kerosene, each engine producing 2,900 pounds-force (13,000 N) of thrust.[18]

Mark I Prototype[edit]

  • Maximum Altitude: 62 km (203,000 ft)[16]
  • Primary Internal Payload: 120 kg (260 lb)[19]
  • Secondary payload spaces include a small area inside the cockpit behind the pilot or outside the vehicle in two areas in the aft fuselage fairing.[19]
  • Aluminum LOX tank
  • Mach 2 (1,500 mph) speed of ascent[20]
  • 4G re-entry loading[20]

Mark II Production Model[edit]

Mark III[edit]

The Lynx Mark III was intended to be the same vehicle as the Mark II with an External Dorsal Mounted Pod of 650 kg (1,430 lb) and was to be large enough to hold a two-stage carrier to launch a microsatellite or multiple nanosatellites into low Earth orbit.[26]

Lynx XR-5K18 engine[edit]

The XR-5K18 is a piston pump fed LOX/RP-1 engine using an expander cycle.[26] The engine chamber and regenerative nozzle are cooled by RP-1[25][26]

The development program of the XCOR Lynx 5K18 LOX/kerosene engine reached a major milestone in March 2011. Integrated test firings of the engine/nozzle combination demonstrated the ability of the aluminum nozzle to withstand the high temperatures of rocket-engine exhaust.[27]

In March 2011, United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced they had entered into a joint-development contract with XCOR for a flight-ready, 25,000 to 30,000 pounds-force (110,000–130,000 N) cryogenic LH2/LOX upper-stage rocket engine (see XCOR/ULA liquid-hydrogen, upper-stage engine development project). The Lynx 5K18 effort to develop a new aluminum alloy engine nozzle using new manufacturing techniques would remove several hundred pounds of weight from the large engine leading to significantly lower-cost and more-capable commercial and US government space flights.[28]

Airframe[edit]

It was reported in 2010 that the Mark I airframe could use a carbon/epoxy ester composite, and the Mark II a carbon/cyanate with a nickel alloy for the nose and leading-edge thermal protection.[29]

Mark I build[edit]

The flight article Lynx Mark I was claimed as being fabricated and assembled in Mojave beginning in mid 2013.[30] The cockpit of the Lynx (made of carbon fiber and designed by AdamWorks, Colorado) was reported as being one of the items that held up the assembly.[19]

At the start of October 2014, the cockpit was attached to the fuselage.[31] The rear carry-through spar was attached to the fuselage shortly after Thanksgiving 2014.[32] At the beginning of May 2015, the strakes were attached to the airframe.[33] The last major component, the wings, were expected to be delivered in late 2015.[34] In January 2016, XCOR's CEO Jay Gibson said "…we anticipate the wings to be there in the very near future…" and the CTO Michael Valant said they were finding that calibrating the flaps was a challenge.[2] In February 2016, the first prototype was described as a "wingless shell."[35]

In XCOR's November 2016 news report, they stated that "Even though the program made great forward progress integrating the vehicle structural elements during 2015 and early 2016 the progress on the control surface elements lagged in design. In an effort to prevent potential rework resulting from implementing designs not yet mature the Lynx fabrication was paused, so our engineering team has gone back to the design board."[36]

Test program[edit]

Tests of the XR-5K18 main engine began in 2008.[37]

In February 2011, it was reported that engine tests were largely complete[23] and the vehicle aerodynamic design had completed two rounds of wind tunnel testing. A third and final round of tests was completed in late 2011 using a "1/60-scale supersonic wind tunnel model of Lynx."[20][23]

In October 2014, XCOR claimed that flight tests of the Mark I prototype would start in 2015.[10][11][38] By January 2016, however, technical hurdles led the company to state that they had not assigned a new projected date for test flights.[2]

Concept of operations[edit]

NASA sRLV program[edit]

In March 2011, XCOR submitted the Lynx as a reusable launch vehicle for carrying research payloads in response to NASA's suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) solicitation, which is a part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program.[39] No contract for providing this was ever announced.

Commercial operations[edit]

According to XCOR, the Lynx was intended to fly four or more times a day, and would have also had the capacity to deliver payloads into space. The Lynx Mark I prototype was expected to perform its first test flight in 2015,[11][40] followed by a flight of the Mark II production model twelve to eighteen months afterwards.[11]

XCOR had planned to have the Lynx's initial flights at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in Mojave, California[41] or any licensed spaceport with a 2,400-metre (7,900 ft) runway. Media reports in 2014 anticipated that, by the end of 2015 or in 2016, the Lynx was expected to begin flying suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions from a new spaceport on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.[42][43] However, the company stated in January 2016 that they had not assigned a new projected date for test flights and a date for the launch of commercial operations could not be anticipated.[2]

Because it lacked any propulsion system other than its rocket engines, the Lynx would have to be towed to the end of the runway. Once positioned on the runway, the pilot would have ignited the four rocket engines, take-off and begin a steep climb. The engines will be shut off at approximately 138,000 feet (42 km) and Mach 2. The spaceplane would then continue to climb, unpowered until it reached an apogee of approximately 200,000 feet (61 km). The spacecraft would have experienced a little over four minutes of weightlessness before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. The occupants of the Lynx were intended to have experienced up to four times normal gravity during re-entry. After re-entry, the Lynx would have glided down and performed an unpowered landing. The total flight time was projected to last about 30 minutes.[26] The Lynx was expected to be able to perform 40 flights before maintenance was required.

Orbital Outfitters was reportedly designing pressure suits for XCOR use.[44] In 2012, Orbital Outfitters reported that they had completed a technical mockup of the Lynx craft itself.[45]

Development cost projections[edit]

In 2008, Mark I production was projected to cost US$10 million (equivalent to US$13 million in 2021),[46][47] and the Mark II around US$12 million (equivalent to US$15 million in 2021).[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Druzin, Rye (2015-09-08). "MSDC president: Lynx will launch from Midland this fiscal year". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  2. ^ a b c d Mulder, Brandon (2016-01-17). "XCOR officials refrain from disclosing date for Lynx test flights". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  3. ^ Pappalardo, Joe (2016-05-31). "The XCOR Lynx Spaceplane Might Be Down for the Count". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  4. ^ a b c Foust, Jeff (2016-05-31). "XCOR lays off employees to focus on engine development". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  5. ^ Messier, Douglas (2018-04-20). "Bankrupt Spaceflight Company's Space Plane Assets to Help Young Minds Soar". Space.com. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  6. ^ David, Leonard (2003-05-19). "XCOR Zeroes in on Xerus". Space.com. Archived from the original on 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  7. ^ David, Leonard (2007-04-23). "XCOR Pursues Dream a Step at a Time". Space.com. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  8. ^ "XCOR Aerospace Suborbital Vehicle to Fly Within Two Years". XCOR Aerospace. 2008-03-26. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  9. ^ "Rocket company offers $95,000 trips to space". New Scientist. Reuters. 2008-12-02. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  10. ^ a b Greason, Jeff (2013-09-16). "Lynx Space Plane Taking Off: Q&A with XCOR Aerospace CEO Jeff Greason". Space.com (Interview). Interviewed by Schilling, Govert. Archived from the original on 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  11. ^ a b c d Norris, Guy (2014-10-08). "XCOR Lynx Moves Into Final Assembly". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on 2015-01-20. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  12. ^ Messier, Douglas (2015-07-15). "XCOR to Hike Ticket Prices 50 Percent". Parabolic Arc. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  13. ^ "New Board of Directors and Advisory Board Members". XCOR Aerospace. Midland, Texas. 2016-03-30. Archived from the original on 2016-04-05. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  14. ^ "America's Justin Dowd wins Metro's Race for Space". Metro. 2014-10-13. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  15. ^ "Race for Space". Race for Space. Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  16. ^ a b c Belfiore, Michael (2012-08-13). "XCOR Lynx: Don't Sleep on the Space Corvette". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  17. ^ "Kayak starts booking space flights". Fox News. 2015-12-14. Archived from the original on 2016-02-21. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  18. ^ Norris, Guy (2013-03-28). "Rocket Test Paves Way For XCOR Lynx Flights". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  19. ^ a b c Belfiore, Michael (November 2013). "The Lynx's Leap". Air & Space/Smithsonian. Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  20. ^ a b c Joiner, Stephen (2011-05-01). "The Mojave Launch Lab". Air & Space/Smithsonian. Archived from the original on 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  21. ^ Spark, Joel (2012-03-02). "XCOR, Southwest Research Institute Move Up Suborbital Payload Testing". Space Safety Magazine. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  22. ^ "XCOR Aerospace Lynx". ZAP16.com. 2011-12-30. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  23. ^ a b c Foust, Jeff (2011-02-28). "Suborbital back out of the shadows". The Space Review. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  24. ^ "A Spaceplane Is Born". moonandback. 2013-09-30. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  25. ^ a b Messier, Douglas (2012-03-19). "Lee Valentine on How XCOR Will Open Up Space". Parabolic Arc. Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  26. ^ a b c d Bergin, Chris (2012-08-27). "XCOR Aerospace's multi-talented Lynx spaceplane set for KSC". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  27. ^ "Demo'd is a revolutionary rocket engine nozzle and a new engine development partnership". Satnews. 2011-03-22. Archived from the original on 2014-05-26. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  28. ^ Morring, Frank Jr. (2011-03-23). "ULA, XCOR Ink Agreement To Develop Upper-Stage Engine". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  29. ^ Wood, Karen (2010-08-31). "The Private Space Race". CompositesWorld. Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  30. ^ Messier, Douglas (2013-09-19). "XCOR Follow the Build Looks at Subsonic Wind Tunnel Testing". Parabolic Arc. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  31. ^ Dean, James (2014-10-10). "XCOR installs cockpit into Lynx space place". Florida Today. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  32. ^ "XCOR Lynx suborbital spacecraft nears final assembly". CompositesWorld (Press release). 2014-12-23. Archived from the original on 2016-04-06. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  33. ^ "XCOR Aerospace Announces Strakes Bonded to Lynx Mark I Spacecraft". SpaceRef (Press release). 2015-06-08. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  34. ^ Foust, Jeff (2015-07-22). "XCOR To Raise Ticket Prices for Suborbital Flights". SpaceNews. San Jose, California. Archived from the original on 2015-08-04. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  35. ^ Wall, Mike (2016-04-05). "Private Lynx Space Plane Could Take Off in Early 2017". Space.com. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  36. ^ "Aerospace Report" (PDF). XCOR Aerospace. November 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-25. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  37. ^ Cowing, Keith (2008-12-17). "Successful First Test Fire of Engine for Lynx Suborbital Launch Vehicle". NASA Watch. Archived from the original on 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  38. ^ "The Age of Space Flights is about to begin". FlyFighterJet.com. 2013-10-12. Archived from the original on 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  39. ^ "Space Technology Mission Directorate Flight Opportunities 2013 Annual Report" (PDF). NASA. p. 97. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  40. ^ Belfiore, Michael (2013-01-09). "Lynx Rocket Plane Readying for Summer Flight". moonandback. Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  41. ^ "XCOR Unveils New Suborbital Rocketship". Space.com. 2008-03-26. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  42. ^ "SXC - Buying your tickets into space!". Space Expedition Corporation. 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-03-06. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  43. ^ "Space Expedition Corporation Announces Wet Lease of XCOR Lynx Suborbital". Space-Travel.com (Press release). 2010-10-06. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  44. ^ "Commercial Spacesuit Companies Compete for Market Share". Parabolic Arc. 2011-03-21. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  45. ^ "XCOR Lynx Technical Mockup Unveiled". Orbital Outfitters. 2012-07-14. Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  46. ^ Pasztor, Andy (2008-03-26). "Economy Fare ($100,000) Lifts Space-Tourism Race". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  47. ^ Antczak, John (2008-03-27). "New rocket aims for space tourism market". NBC News. Archived from the original on 2022-05-27. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  48. ^ Foust, Jeff (2008-03-31). "One size may not fit all". The Space Review. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2022-05-27.

External links[edit]