Wednesday, January 11, 2012
XCOR Closer to First Test Flight
The XCOR Lynx could have its first test flight by the end of 2012. Image source: XCOR.
FlightGlobal.com reports that XCOR hopes to launch its first test flights this year.
Taxi tests are scheduled to begin in October or November, which will be quickly followed by a short hop and finally a brief first flight by the end of the year.
The Lynx Mk1 design will be limited to flight tests. For commercial operations, Xcor will roll-out a Mk2 version about nine months later with two major changes. The Mk2 aeroshell will be made with different material that is easier to maintain in the field. Secondly, the metallic liquid oxygen fuel tanks on the Mk1 will be replaced by a non-flammable composite material, McKee said.
Finally, a Mk3 version of the Lynx is still being designed. It will introduce a 3.4m-long, circular payload pay mounted on top of the fuselage. The added feature will allow the Lynx to launch satellites weighing up to 650kg into low-earth orbit.
Beyond the technical issues, the article also notes details about XCOR's financial model.
As first flight approaches, Xcor also has released a detailed market projection for its new product. Company officials are seeking to break the popular notion that suborbital spaceflight is aimed solely at the space tourism market.
Tourism will account for less than 10% of the roughly $6 billion "addressable market" Xcor anticipates for the Lynx by 2015, when the company envisions a growing fleet launching into space several times a day.
Another $1.1 billion in yearly sales is projected for launching payloads, as well as $1.4 billion in revenue for launching small satellites. Xcor also projects a $2.8 billion market for vehicle and equipment sales to third parties, including the possibility of selling the rocket engine to the United Launch Alliance as a replacement for the Pratt & Whitney RL10.