Whitehorn on XCOR

During the Q&A session of his ISDC speech Thursday, Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn was asked about thoughts about XCOR Aerospace, who announced plans for its own suborbital vehicle, Lynx, in March:

XCOR is a company I respect, but with respect to them, they’re not building a spaceship. They’re building basically a high-altitude MiG equivalent. They’re building something that you can strap in and go up to 37 miles. You won’t get your astronaut wings but you will see the curvature of the earth. That will be an exciting project, but the problem is that it’s not a space project, and I think it’s been a little bit wrong to call it that.

Whitehorn added that Virgin’s customers are paying $200,000 for a complete experience that includes floating around the cabin and flying beyond the 100-kilometer boundary of space, something that the Mark 1 version of Lynx won’t be able to offer.

Whitehorn did say that XCOR is a “clever” company that is able to build Lynx, and “if the price of it was cheap enough, it’s the kind of thing we would buy.” He added, though, that XCOR’s $100,000 initial ticket price was not cheap enough. “I would say to XCOR to keep on doing what you’re doing, but you’ll have to get the price of that well, well down relative to the SpaceShipTwo launch price for it to work successfully.”

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