Suborbital Provider Session

Jeff Greason, XCOR Aerospace:

Lynx two seater, pilot plus one. 24-foot wingspan, 30-foot length. Capable of multiple missions. Learned a lot from EZ-Rocket and X-Racer, both technically and regulatorily. Uses non-toxic 3N22 thrusters. Getting ready to start fabrication of airframe. Mark I is prototype (60 km altitude), Mark II is production (100 km). Primary difference in thermal for entry.

George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic:

Richard Branson’s American space company. Two-stage to suborbit, uses a carrier aircraft which releases space vehicle at 50,000 feet, to baseline 110 kilometers, then deploys wings to allow passive entry. Based on winning X-Prize vehicle, gentle runway landing, is fully funded. 2100 cubic feet of usable space (medium-class bizjet), ability to mount instruments externally, twelve windows. Interior still under design. Showing short video of glide flight. Good vehicle characteristics. Shows rocket motor test and dedication of Spaceport America runway (named after Bill Richardson. For now).

Neil Milburn, Armadillo Aerospace:

Showing Super-MOD vehicle, which flew for the LLC Challenge, but has an aeroshell. Project Morpheus for NASA was Super QUAD. Last six months spent on a tube vehicle (highest aspect ratio of any Armadillo behicle I’ve seen) — fully recoverable, lands with chutes. ~30 feet tall. Incorporates lessons learned over the past ten years. Can be clustered and staged (inspired by Lutz Kayser’s OTRAG work). Think can get to 500 km with cluster. Suborbital Space Transport (SOST) next project, ultimately man capable for two people with observation windows. Eight engines, designed to come down as one piece, but cabin is separable in emergency. Most hardware ready to go together, so expect fly early fall this year.

Dan Christiansen, Blue Origin:

New Shepherd is suborbital research vehicle. Vertically integrated company in Kent, WA and Culbertson County TX. On second increment of vehicle that originally flew in 2006 (he was missing from the noon press conference). Separable crew capsule which separates at apogee and lands separately under parachutes — propulsion lands under powered landing. Reaching out to research community to better understand their needs for requirements development and how to work together. Can support three or more researchers or equipment racks, which are flexible in configuration. Also standard interface for customer racks.

David Masten, Masten Space Systems:

Vertical takeoff, vertical landing. Southwest turn around in 20 minutes — they’re shooting for the same thing. Currently at 45 minutes. Not worrying about people yet — want to have thousands of safe landings first. Quick iterations for rapid development. Won Lunar Lander Challenge, have over seventy flights under their belt. Xombie has most flight time, Xoie won LLC. Xaero has a composite shell for aerodynamics, will go to thirty kilometers. Four flights planned for CRuSR, engine on, engine relight, hundred thousand feet. Xogdor is Xaero with bigger tanks, and will do a hundred kilometers, to buy down risk on future vehicles.

Alan Stern: Five different companies with different approaches, and total private investment on the order of a billion dollars. This is a serious industry.

One thought on “Suborbital Provider Session”

  1. Thanks for these reports. I didn’t know suborbital flight was this important. I was especially impressed by the Jeff Grearson post.

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