Denise Chow has the story.
I think that there’s an excellent chance that they’re going to beat Virgin at being first to market.
Good for them. It will be interesting to see where the Lynx takes us (beyond just tourists to space) in terms of where it leads.
If they’re first, Virgin will be eXCORiated in the space press
Looks like XCOR will demonstrate that the X Prize was indeed a failure.
How is that? Virgin is not going to fail to get to market, and it won’t matter if XCOR beats them. The two business models are not exclusive. If anything, the progress Virgin has made probably made it possible for XCOR to make as much progress as they have. And all of it was an outcome of the XPRIZE.
Sorry for the delay, I have been busy.
I posted it before, but I will recap.
1 As Paul Allen noted it cause Paul Allen/Burt Rutan to turn SpaceShipOne for a true x-vehicle that would have explored the aerodynamics in a true flight program into a stunt vehicle for winning the prize, greatly increasing its size, doubling its cost, forcing a premature engine decision and limiting the test flight program. The eight years (and counting) of delays is the price SpaceShipTwo is paying for it.
2 Rather than having his engineering staff select the best design for VG Sir Branson allowed the X-Prize to do so, putting VG on hold until the prize of own.
3 The winning of the X-Prize by SpaceShipOne and Sir Branson immediately buying the design for VG gave the invest community the impression that a deep pocket billionaire had already snagged the best design, drying investment funds for the rest of the firms in the sub-orbital industry, even those not involved in the X-Prize, opposite of what it was claimed it would do. It wasn’t until a gap of 3-4 years when it became apparent that Sir Branson likely backed the wrong design that some VC’s cautiously enter the market. But the long dry spell created basically killed off most of the firms beyond those self-fund with the exception of XCOR. Again, a set back for the industry.
4 By focusing on space tourism, the smallest, most expensive elastic and complex market segment for sub-orbital flight it distracted firms from the much larger existing sub-orbital markets in Science, Education and Research, markets already generating a billion plus dollars in flights worldwide. Compare those revenues to the 500 customers VG has, which at roughly $200,000 each is only a mere $100 million. Even if the entire potential market of 5,000 to 10,000 space tourism customers show up the total market revenue over the life space of SpaceShipTwo would only be 1-2 billion USD at VG prices, a mere $500 million to 1 billion for XCOR. Assuming it takes a decade to reach those numbers they would be only equal 5-10 percent of the money spent on non-tourist sub-orbital flights during the same period.
So any way you look at it the X-prize set the sub-orbital industry back by several years which, since its goal was to advance it, makes it a failure.
It would help a lot if Virgin had an engine, but a stable supersonic reentry glider is at least the same order of difficulty; and XCOR has never done that before. Really, they’ve never designed any airframe before, since the previous two were homebuild kits with moderate modification.
But yeah, count me in rooting for XCOR to beat ‘em.
Yeah. One company makes good engines but has no history of doing airframes capable of reentry from space. The other has very good experience designing airframes but has failed miserably at doing their own engines. I wouldn’t be counting on anything ATM.
Scaled Composites needs to test SpaceShipTwo rocket powered flights and XCOR needs to test their airframe.
Traditionally, building your own engine has been considered the sucker’s way. XCOR will no doubt prove them wrong, being that their engines are better than anything else available, but you can’t blame Scaled for goin’ the traditional direction they did. They’re both using composite airframes, this is true, but the Lynx is a whole heck smaller than SS2.
It’s a pity there’s no easy or affordable mothership to carry the Lynx aloft before lighting the engines. A good percentage of the propellant will be used just to get the Lynx off the ground. IIRC, the Me-163 Komet used over 30% of its propellant just for takeoff. Take a Lynx up to 30-50K feet and you’d reach a far higher altitude.
SpaceX would never have been able to do what they’ve done without developing their own engines.
That the word “traditionally”.. SpaceX aint.
Obviously XCOR has the better price per ride, but Virgin will probably have the better experience with free floaters in the cabin, and I think no pressure suit. So what you have are two different experiences at two different price points.
While the free-floating sounds like fun, as a private pilot, I think I’d prefer the XCOR experience. You’re in the cockpit with the pilot and should have a terrific view for the entire flight. It’d be great if they let qualified passengers get a little stick time during the zero G portion of the flight (controlling the attitude to see different things) but I doubt that will happen. I can dream, can’t I?
On VG, you’re just another passenger. You can pay a few thousand dollars and get the free-floating experience on the Vomit Comet.
“On VG, you’re just another passenger. You can pay a few thousand dollars and get the free-floating experience on the Vomit Comet.”
But neither as high, nor as continuous. One pays to get that, too…
Commercial parabolic is simply still another experience at another price point.
It’s hard to tell what a market may be. You take your chances. Failure is an option. Without it, you don’t get too many successes.
The iconic image is brushing the dust off and trying again.
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