XCOR announces Lynx

Lynx ascent illustration
Credit: Mike Massee/XCOR

XCOR Aerospace announced today its plans to develop Lynx, a suborbital rocketplane. Lynx is similar in concept to XCOR’s earlier suborbital vehicle project, Xerus: a two-seat winged vehicle that takes off from a runway under rocket power, ascends to altitude, and glides back for a runway landing. Lynx, described as “roughly the size of a small private airplane”, will begin flights in 2010 and be able to fly multiple flights per day. The initial press release did not disclose the vehicle’s development cost nor whether the company had all the funds in hand to develop Lynx, although XCOR in the past has tended to be conservative in this area.

A few notes from the release:

  • XCOR is careful in saying that the Lynx will fly “to the edge of space”, but not in space itself: the flight profile shows it reaching a peak altitude of 61 km, well short of even the minimal 80 km “boundary” used by the US Government for awarding astronaut wings. Whether that will be an issue for customers—who will still experience weightlessness and get a broad view of the Earth below—is unclear.
  • The press release plays up space tourism as a market, noting that the vehicle “will provide affordable front-seat rides to the edge of space for the millions of people who want to buy a ticket”, although it does mention research and education applications. The images suggest there will won’t be any room in the cockpit for the customer to float around in; keep in mind that Rocketplane Global, planning to develop a larger vehicle, doesn’t plan to allow its passengers to float around, at least initially.
  • As a possible preemption of any criticism of the vehicle on environmental grounds, the company is noting that Lynx’s liquid-propellant engines will “minimize” the environmental impact of the flights. “They are fully reusable, burn cleanly, and release fewer particulates than solid fuel or hybrid rocket motors,” XCOR’s Jeff Greason said in the release.

More details will likely come out at a press conference in LA scheduled for 1 pm EDT today.

4 comments to XCOR announces Lynx

  • Chance

    So I don’t actually go into space, even by a loose definition, I don’t get to float around, and they want how much to do this?

  • Stewart

    This may be the start of point-to-point rapid travel; a key factor is will Lynx be able to fly trans-continental or trans-oceanic? NYC-LA in 45 minutes?

  • Ammar Alim Baz

    Well I think compared to other the Lynx-project provides the best value for your money. Maybe you don’t go that high, but according to http://www.migflug.com you sit next to the pilot, you have a speed of mach 2 and you have a great view through the large cockpit window. Price there it says is USD 95’000.
    I think Virgin Galactic in comparison is more like a plane ride as a passenger, the Lynx more like a co-pilot. For sure not worth more double the price, even if you go higher.

  • Ammar Alim Baz

    By the way this was my answer to you, “Change”. :) And sorry that I didn’t write the direct link, it is: http://www.migflug.com/1/lynx-suborbital/ for the Xcor Lynx Spaceflight. And I just saw that Zero Gravity flights are offered as well. So, change, you can float around even in a much larger Il-76 if you trust Sowjet technology :) Have a look here: http://www.migflug.com/index.php?id=13&L=1

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