XCOR Aerospace rases $14 million to complete Lynx development

Lynx suborbital vehicle (credit: XCOR Aerospace)

A $14-million funding round announced this week will give XCOR Aerospace the financial runway it needs to bring the Lynx suborbital spaceplane to market. (credit: XCOR Aerospace)

XCOR Aerospace announced Tuesday that it has raised a “Series B” funding round of $14.2 million, led by one of its partners. Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) is taking an undisclosed stake in XCOR, enough to warrant two of its officers, Michiel Mol and Mark Hoogendoorn, to join XCOR’s current five-member board of directors. Several other existing and new investors joined in the round, including Esther Dyson and Pete Ricketts, and the company is in discussions with “a few more potential investors” who may join this summer. (An SEC filing by XCOR earlier this year indicated that the company was seeking to raise as much as $20 million.)

SXC, originally known as Space Experience Curaçao, is one of XCOR’s major customers, selling seats on future flights by XCOR’s Lynx suborbital spaceplane. SXC plans to “wet lease” Lynx vehicles from XCOR for operations from the Caribbean island of Curaçao. SXC is based in the Netherlands, and as such the investment was reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an office of the Treasury Department that vets foreign investments in some industries. XCOR said in the statement announcing the investment that CFIUS had cleared the investment.

The investment, according to the release, will fund XCOR’s work on Lynx to bring the suborbital spaceplane to market. The prototype Lynx Mark I is being assembled at XCOR’s Mojave facility, and company officials said earlier this month that they expect tests of that prototype to begin later this year. “This investment will allow us to accelerate and run in parallel several final developments in the critical path to first flight,” XCOR CEO Jeff Greason said in the announcement.

Once the test flight program starts for the Lynx, it will be at least a year before commercial flights will begin. In a presentation at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles earlier this month, XCOR test pilot and former astronaut Rick Searfoss said he anticipated a test flight program of 12 to 18 months, depending on the progress the company makes on the incremental series of test flights.

XCOR is also getting ready to move its operations from Mojave Air and Space Port in California to Midland International Airport in Texas. Officials there said earlier this month that they’re making progress on getting a spaceport license from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and expect to get approval by September 15. Work is also underway there to remodel a hangar that XCOR will use.

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