Author Topic: XCOR and the Lynx rocket  (Read 355475 times)

Offline cgrunska

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XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« on: 10/07/2009 07:32 PM »
Anyone hear heard of this company? They claim to be nearing completion of a rocket that will fly like a jet to the upper bounds of the atmosphere and then launch into space, and have a methane based engine.

Just curious if they are viable
« Last Edit: 05/10/2011 01:23 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #1 on: 10/07/2009 07:50 PM »
Anyone hear heard of this company? They claim to be nearing completion of a rocket that will fly like a jet to the upper bounds of the atmosphere and then launch into space, and have a methane based engine.

Just curious if they are viable

XCOR has made real rockets. I believe they made one for the Rocket Racing League (although Armadillo Aerospace has the latest one). They are using their own chassis (not a converted Gulfstream, like rocketplane kistler) as the basis for their suborbital craft. They're a real company, and they aren't a bunch of jokers. They can make rockets.

EDIT: Here's another rocket plane they made, called the EZ-Rocket:

http://www.xcor.com/products/vehicles/ez-rocket.html

As far as if their business plan is viable, well, that's certainly up to debate! Just like every business venture, no one really knows until they've been operating for a couple years with paying customers and making a profit after all is said and done. (BTW, they can have a pretty short and inexpensive turnaround time since all they have to do is refuel and change passengers, so if they had enough customers, I think they could cut their price per flight to around $10,000-$20,000)

EDIT: Someone pointed out that I was confusing Rocketplane Kistler with XCor. I changed this post to reflect reality. I blame it on an errant cosmic ray hitting my gray matter ;).
« Last Edit: 10/09/2009 02:45 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline cgrunska

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #2 on: 10/07/2009 08:20 PM »
ah, so they are another suborbital company like Virgin Galactic then?

The person speaking about them stated they were an alternative to NASA, and was a proponent to taking away all funding, stating commericial space access is coming along swimmingly.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #3 on: 10/07/2009 08:35 PM »
ah, so they are another suborbital company like Virgin Galactic then?

The person speaking about them stated they were an alternative to NASA, and was a proponent to taking away all funding, stating commericial space access is coming along swimmingly.

As far as commercial manned space access like NASA, the only 2 companies that are really doing that are SpaceX and Orbital. (I've heard some argue that Orbital is pretty close to a typical aerospace prime like Boeing or Lockheed-Martin instead of "New Space", but that's another discussion.)  But NASA does a heck of a lot more than launch vehicles into orbit (in fact, it barely does that at all!), and SpaceX's biggest customer right now by far is NASA itself, so SpaceX really relies on NASA for funding right now.

XCor isn't doing an orbital vehicle right now. Your "friend" must either be confused or thinking of SpaceX (or possibly Orbital).
« Last Edit: 10/07/2009 08:51 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Antares

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #4 on: 10/07/2009 08:52 PM »
Heard of them?  The greatest member of the Augustine Commission is the president of this company.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline meiza

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #5 on: 10/07/2009 08:59 PM »
Jeff Greason, who probably to the members of this forum is most familiar as a member of the Augustine panel, is the CEO of XCOR.

Since XCOR has already produced and flown two rocket powered vehicles, it's probable that the Lynx will soon fly as well.

At the moment it seems it will use kerosene, not methane as fuel.

Online savuporo

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #6 on: 10/08/2009 07:16 AM »
But NASA does a heck of a lot more than launch vehicles into orbit (in fact, it barely does that at all!),
Uh, ahem, just a little fact check here. Lions share of NASA budget goes to launching stuff, or building new launchers for future.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline mlorrey

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #7 on: 10/08/2009 09:40 AM »
Anyone hear heard of this company? They claim to be nearing completion of a rocket that will fly like a jet to the upper bounds of the atmosphere and then launch into space, and have a methane based engine.

Just curious if they are viable

XCOR has made real rockets. I believe they made one for the Rocket Racing League (although Armadillo Aerospace has the latest one). They are using a very heavily modified Gulfstream business jet as the basis for their suborbital craft. They're a real company, and they aren't a bunch of jokers. They can make rockets.

EDIT: Here's another rocket plane they made, called the EZ-Rocket:

http://www.xcor.com/products/vehicles/ez-rocket.html

As far as if their business plan is viable, well, that's certainly up to debate! Just like every business venture, no one really knows until they've been operating for a couple years with paying customers and making a profit after all is said and done. (BTW, they can have a pretty short and inexpensive turnaround time since all they have to do is refuel and change passengers, so if they had enough customers, I think they could cut their price per flight to around $10,000-$20,000)

Sorry, your a little off base here. You dont know much about them and are making stuff up.

I've known the company since it formed in the wake of the Rotary Rocket Company collapse, their main rocket engineer is a friend of mine. I made the X-Plane simulation of their EZ-Rocket vehicle.

They've made a good amount of money over the years building engines and thruster systems for others: NASA, ATK, the Rocket Racing League, etc. They have pioneered the development of modern rocket fuel piston pumps, and their engine technology is was well demonstrated for many duty cycles of operation per day, long before Armadillo came on the scene.

Their Lynx is NOT based on a Gulfstream, you are confusing them with Kistler-Rocketplane Ltd. The Lynx is a two seat delta winged vehicle of their own design that will take off from a runway with four 2,700 lb thrust rocket engines burning LOX and Kerosene (not methane, you are confusing the Lynx engine with the XR-5M15 engine they have built for a Lunar Lander contract as part of the ATK contractor team in the NASA Constellation program (and you said they weren't making money, pfft)).

They will be competing against Virgin Galactic, but providing a lower cost AND more authentic space experience: the lone paying passenger will sit up front next to the pilot, every passenger is getting a front seat, full windshield view of space and will get to experience the full cockpit experience of launch and reentry/landing. At $98,000 a ticket, I think its a much better value than flying on Branson's flying tire fire, and more environmentally clean too, putting far less particulates in the atmosphere.

The Lynx will be able to operate from a much wider variety of airfields, enabling space tourism ventures to operate anyplace on the globe.

Based at Mojave Airfield, the Lynx development operation seems to be well along. I can't say more for confidentiality reasons.

All the above can be derived from actually going to their website and actually reading it...
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Offline mlorrey

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #8 on: 10/08/2009 09:59 AM »
ah, so they are another suborbital company like Virgin Galactic then?

The person speaking about them stated they were an alternative to NASA, and was a proponent to taking away all funding, stating commericial space access is coming along swimmingly.

They were probably talking about SpaceX, which has been developing its Dragon capsule for use as an unmanned space laboratory and manned vehicle long before NASA started offering COTS funding. Chairman Elon Musk is a dyed in the wool manned space fanatic. That he is eagerly obtaining NASA contracts to help multiply the leveraging of his company is simply good business sense, but unlike the prime contractors, he is in business in order to put men on mars, not to keep wall street happy.

However XCOR itself has plans beyond Lynx for its own manned space and orbital launch services, but they are taking an incrementalist approach like a flight testing program.

The EZ-Rocket was about proving operational responsiveness in a rocket plane and developing the tools and methods to achieve such reliably, not so much about the rocket engines themselves. Lynx is about putting the lessons learned into a slightly higher performance vehicle that can make it to space at supersonic speeds at a much lower cost than even Virgin Galactic can.

After that, well, their Xerus vehicle proposal includes plans for an upper stage to put nanosats in orbit. I dont' know if their next step will be Xerus or something slightly higher performance or larger, we'll see.

The head of the company, Jeff Greason, comes to the space business from Intel, so he knows about putting together and executing multi-generational, incrementalist, long term development plans and sticking to them.

I would not be surprised if they get the Lynx in operation shortly after (6-12 months) Virgin Galactic goes into operations. All those screaming fans who wanted to fly SS2 but have lost their shirts in the markets and their home values are going to line up to buy Lynx tickets at less than half the cost of an SS2 flight. Sir Richard has a short window to make back his investment before Greason kneecaps him financially.
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Offline Garrett

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #9 on: 10/08/2009 09:59 AM »
I see that they will "only" be flying to an altitude of 61 km, unlike Branson's SpaceShipTwo which will cross the 100 km mark. 61 km is still in space as far as I'm concerned, but the 100 km line (Kármán line) has a lot of marketing value.

I think it's great that there are two decent companies proposing suborbital flights. Although competitors, it seems both will be targeting somewhat different customers. All good news in my books :)
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #10 on: 10/08/2009 01:13 PM »
 You can call a volleyball suborbital if you want. The fact is, XCOR is offereing an airplane ride. VG is offering a spaceship ride. 100km might be kind of arbitrary, but there's a big difference in people bragging that they've been to space, and that they've "almost" been to space. Not to mention the experience of six minutes of floating around in a relatively spacious cabin compared to two? minutes of zero g while fastened to a seat.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2009 01:15 PM by Nomadd »

Online jongoff

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #11 on: 10/08/2009 04:21 PM »
I can't say I'm an unbiased observer, because I'm good friends with the XCOR guys/gals, and have been following them since they started the company back in 99.  I have nothing but praise and respect for the XCOR team.  They've built and fired something like a dozen different rocket designs over the past 10 years, ranging from tiny Nitrous/Ethane RCS engines all the way up to 7.5klbf LOX/Methane engines.  They've built and flown two generations of rocket-powered aircraft, and are working on their third one right now (I've seen some of the pieces on my occasional walks over to their shop).  Jeff runs a tight ship, so-to-speak, and I was really pleased that he got selected for the Augustine Committee.  They've had their ups-and-downs, just as everyone else in the industry has, but they've stuck through it, and I expect to see more good things from them in the future. 

Also, while Lynx Mk I is not full 100km suborbital, the Mk II design is supposed to take it the rest of the way.  And quite frankly if a suborbital company can make money selling tickets to 60km, more power to them.

~Jon

Offline cgrunska

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #12 on: 10/08/2009 05:21 PM »
thanks guys, always great how much information you guys impart!

The guy had talked of spacex and then mentioned virgin galatic and Xcor.
I was dubious because he was mentioning these companies in regards to stating NASA needs to be dissolved since commericial is about to bust into space.

Anyway, great news for me! I'd love to pay 100k for a short trip into space. How thrilling!

not sure if it's worth doubling for free floating for 4 more minutes. Maybe...

Offline Patchouli

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #13 on: 10/08/2009 06:32 PM »
I can't say I'm an unbiased observer, because I'm good friends with the XCOR guys/gals, and have been following them since they started the company back in 99.  I have nothing but praise and respect for the XCOR team.  They've built and fired something like a dozen different rocket designs over the past 10 years, ranging from tiny Nitrous/Ethane RCS engines all the way up to 7.5klbf LOX/Methane engines.  They've built and flown two generations of rocket-powered aircraft, and are working on their third one right now (I've seen some of the pieces on my occasional walks over to their shop).  Jeff runs a tight ship, so-to-speak, and I was really pleased that he got selected for the Augustine Committee.  They've had their ups-and-downs, just as everyone else in the industry has, but they've stuck through it, and I expect to see more good things from them in the future. 

Also, while Lynx Mk I is not full 100km suborbital, the Mk II design is supposed to take it the rest of the way.  And quite frankly if a suborbital company can make money selling tickets to 60km, more power to them.

~Jon

People already pay a good sum of money to fly to 80,000 feet in a Mig 25.
http://www.incredible-adventures.com/edgeofspace.html

I think the Lynx craft also may become a popular platform for atmospheric research in near space.
It can go higher then a balloon and is probably cheaper then most sounding rockets.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2009 06:36 PM by Patchouli »

Offline mlorrey

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #14 on: 10/08/2009 08:21 PM »
You can call a volleyball suborbital if you want. The fact is, XCOR is offereing an airplane ride. VG is offering a spaceship ride. 100km might be kind of arbitrary, but there's a big difference in people bragging that they've been to space, and that they've "almost" been to space. Not to mention the experience of six minutes of floating around in a relatively spacious cabin compared to two? minutes of zero g while fastened to a seat.

"Airplane" denotes that there is air to plane off of. There isn't any at 62 km altitude. It is impossible for aerodynamic surfaces to work anywhere near that altitude, one must use thrusters to maneuver. For this reason, the Lynx is a spaceship.

Also, keep in mind that in actuality, the passenger will be in a micro/zero gravity environment from the moment the rocket engine cuts out. From there it will coast up to peak altitude, then fall until it hits atmosphere again
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #15 on: 10/08/2009 10:35 PM »
 I should have said rocket plane. I guessed at the zero G time for the Lynx from the note that said 1.25 minutes from engine cutoff to peak.
 Don't get me wrong. I'd rather be a janitor for XCOR than the president of most companies.

 I'll just wait till Jongoff goes into production, pick up a few of his demo units, a used 60s Russian suit and strap em to a lawn chair.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2009 10:35 PM by Nomadd »

Offline mlorrey

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #16 on: 10/09/2009 01:27 AM »
I should have said rocket plane. I guessed at the zero G time for the Lynx from the note that said 1.25 minutes from engine cutoff to peak.
 Don't get me wrong. I'd rather be a janitor for XCOR than the president of most companies.

 I'll just wait till Jongoff goes into production, pick up a few of his demo units, a used 60s Russian suit and strap em to a lawn chair.

Ok time for some math here, as I havent calculated the actual free fall time from engine cutoff to reentry. I do know the ship will be cutting off at about Mach 2.5-3.0, though not sure what altitude that will be at, but will definitely be somewhere around 150k-250k ft altitude. Assuming a near vertical trajectory, at engine cutoff they are going about 2500 ft/sec and should coast vertically for 97,000 ft or thereabouts over 77 seconds. This tells me that thrust should cut out around 228,000 ft.

At engine cut out you will be at 1 g which should decrease as gravity drags down your velocity and you gain altitude, til you reach 0 G at peak.

You will then peak out and free fall until atmosphere gets thick enough it starts to bite. Not sure what altitude the wings should start seeing significant resistance, so I can't do a calculation about how much time the free fall will last for. I believe they are timing the 90 seconds from peak till air bite.

As for where space starts, NASA says it starts at 50 miles aka 80 km, however the Federation Internationale Aeronautique says its 62 km, which will be the peak altitude of the Lynx. http://knowledgenews.net/moxie/science/space-atmosphere-2.shtml  This is also the altitude SS1 went to to win the X-Prize, so as far as most people are concerned, thats space thar.
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Offline Jorge

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #17 on: 10/09/2009 01:31 AM »
I should have said rocket plane. I guessed at the zero G time for the Lynx from the note that said 1.25 minutes from engine cutoff to peak.
 Don't get me wrong. I'd rather be a janitor for XCOR than the president of most companies.

 I'll just wait till Jongoff goes into production, pick up a few of his demo units, a used 60s Russian suit and strap em to a lawn chair.

Ok time for some math here, as I havent calculated the actual free fall time from engine cutoff to reentry. I do know the ship will be cutting off at about Mach 2.5-3.0, though not sure what altitude that will be at, but will definitely be somewhere around 150k-250k ft altitude. Assuming a near vertical trajectory, at engine cutoff they are going about 2500 ft/sec and should coast vertically for 97,000 ft or thereabouts over 77 seconds. This tells me that thrust should cut out around 228,000 ft.

At engine cut out you will be at 1 g which should decrease as gravity drags down your velocity and you gain altitude, til you reach 0 G at peak.

No. You'll be in 0 g as soon as the engines cut off.
JRF

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #18 on: 10/09/2009 02:42 AM »

No. You'll be in 0 g as soon as the engines cut off.


They should mandate physics courses for all students in high school. ;)

BTW, earlier, someone pointed out that I was confused between the rocketplane Kistler guys (who are/were using a converted gulfstream jet) and XCor (who just are building their own rocketplane). Sorry about that!
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Offline mlorrey

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Re: XCOR and the Lynx rocket
« Reply #19 on: 10/09/2009 05:09 AM »

No. You'll be in 0 g as soon as the engines cut off.


They should mandate physics courses for all students in high school. ;)

BTW, earlier, someone pointed out that I was confused between the rocketplane Kistler guys (who are/were using a converted gulfstream jet) and XCor (who just are building their own rocketplane). Sorry about that!

I thought it would be 0 G from cutoff earlier too but I started overthinking things. It looks like zero G time should be around 154 seconds or more on the Lynx, so two and a half minutes of hang time, minimum.

t'sokay about the confusion on the rocket plane origins. I was a big fan of Rocketplane in their first iteration when it was Clapp's Blackhorse proposal (which I would not be surprised if XCOR actually builds at some time), but they've gone on a long time on vaporware and redesigns and such. Rocketplane seemed to start with big dreams and steadily whittled those down over time while XCOR started small and built a solid record of growth from there.
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