10 thoughts on “XCOR’s Approach To Space”

  1. At this point, I think there’s a good chance that Lynx will do a suborbital spaceflight before Virgin Galactic does.

  2. Perhaps it’s just me, but I just am having difficulty being enthusiastic about suborbital vehicles. More than a half century has elapsed since Freedom 7.

    1. You are more than welcome to not be enthusiastic about suborbital flights. 🙂 Those of us working to do this understand the difference between a National program to put a test pilot with the ‘right stuff’ into the ocean to be rescued by the US Navy, and something that takes place several times a day for a tiny fraction of the cost. Any new transportation mode must be operable and affordable. ICBM technology and flight costs were acceptable when the goal was to put a man on the moon before the Soviets, but that doesn’t get me or my co-workers into space. Suborbital vehicles build the technology, build the team, and do those while having a business plan that is paid for by private capital and private ticket buyers.

      1. I’ve thought of another thing to add to a suborbital business model, which is going up and intercepting the flight path of a spent satellite, firing the rocket engines to put exhaust gases along the orbital path of the satellite to gently degrade the orbit without creating any debris. Doing that cheaply requires a reusable suborbital vehicle, and the amount of space debris we need to clean up requires a vehicle with a high flight rate.

      2. something that takes place several times a day for a tiny fraction of the cost.

        Here is the catch. Something that takes a decade to get going and requires a sizeable team of people developing it, is not a “tiny fraction of the cost”. Tying-up of a reasonable chunk of engineering talent for such an endeavor has its own opportunity costs, not to speak of the monetary expense etc.
        Fortunately, its still somewhat free country and people can choose whatever the heck they want to get paid for and pay for other people building. However, there are also some potential side effects – for instance, take a venture like Moller SkyCar. By working diligently on a problem for decades without any measurable progress and burning through wads of cash, the guy has seriously undermine any possibility of someone with a clue actually developing a personal roadable VTOL aircraft.

        Just to be clear, i am not referring to XCOR here, but their publicly stated aspirations vs their actual achievements have not been exactly in sync – and they have been the most modest of the whole “suborbital industry” bunch.

  3. Fairly accurate article, although the author seems to think XCOR has aspirations toward a Single Stage To Orbit vehicle. We do not. Safety, reliability, and low cost per flight are the goals whether the destination is a suborbital hop or colonizing Mars. Number of stages to reach each goal is secondary to those 3 targets. Low cost per flight may seem to be anathema to safety and reliability, but only by doing lots of flight test can you find all the problems. Just like with airplanes, if you discover a problem in flight test, adding 10 or 20 flights to investigate that problem needs to be affordable.

    Rand will likely point out that I said ‘safety’ as opposed to ‘safe’ 🙂

  4. Just a thought: What it be possible to haul the Lynx to 50,000 feet on White Night II? The loaded weight of Lynx is 11,000 pounds, while Spaceship II is supposed to be 23,000 pounds, so on paper it seems like there is a lot of margin there.

    If Lynx Mark I could start out at 50,000 feet, air drop and ignite, could it then reach 100 km or higher (from ground launch it’s supposed to reach only 60 km)?

    Virgin Galactic could then conceivably use Lynx for interim one-passenger flights until Spaceship II could be reconfigured with a liquid (XCorXCOR?) engine…

    1. Heck, why use White Knight 2? Space Ship 1 was around 8,000 pounds so even the original White Knight might be able to carry a Lynx! (though probably not as high as 50.000 feet)

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