XCOR progress report in construction of Lynx

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The competition heats up: In a press release today XCOR announced new progress in the assembly of its Lynx suborbital space plane.

They revealed that they have “bonded the XCOR Lynx Mark I strakes to the Lynx spacecraft fuselage.”

To be honest, my impression of the work at XCOR from the photo at the link is that of one or two guys working in their spare time in their garage on restoring a classic car. Though I wish them well, the progress seems very slow, and piecemeal. In fact, it reminds me much of Richard Branson’s many false promises at Virgin Galactic. For example, back in 2012 XCOR announced a test flight schedule for 2013. None of those flights ever happened. Then in 2014 they said they hoped to begin flight tests before the end of that year. Again, nothing happened.

At least with this most recent release they aren’t saying when they plan to fly, since from the picture it appears they are quite a long ways from doing so. It is far better to make real promises that false ones, and XCOR might have learned that lesson watching the public relations problems Richard Branson has had in recent years.

Even so, I have been consistently very skeptical of this project. In fact, back in October 2013, in describing the effort of Blue Origin in the suborbital tourism trade, I predicted the following:

That the present ship [Blue Origin’s New Shepard] is being designed for suborbital tourist flights makes it a direct competitor of Virgin Galactic and XCOR. And considering the problems that Virgin Galactic has with SpaceShipTwo [written one year before its crash], and that XCOR doesn’t have the big bucks of Bezos, Blue Origin might actually be in the lead in the race to put the first tourists in space.

It appears now that this prediction was right on the money.


  • Steve

    You were right on the money, and that is why I read Behind the Black and also specifically download those episodes of the John Batchelor show that you are on. News coupled with informed opinions that can’t be found anywhere else.

    Ok, back to lurking… :-)

  • As I ‘ve tried to convince you endlessly, you are wrong (cubed) about XCOR. Too bad you weren’t at Space Access in Phoenix last weekend. Too bad you didn’t have the chance to see Jeff Greason’s detailed and frank presentation about both the progress and problems in getting all the many parts of the Lynx together and working, and/or talk with him after. It’s a non-trivial task to put together a supersonic aircraft with radically reusable rocket motors and other systems. The progress has been slower than hoped for, yes, but there a real and good reasons for all of that.

    You should really stop mud-slinging about them Bob. No, they are not like two guys working on a car in their spare time. They have nearly 100 people right now and they’re all working their butts off. And BTW did you notice that their upper stage LOX/H2 motor is a candidate for ULA’s eventual Centaur replacement stage?

    I’d be happy to try to explain this again to you, but suspect that it won’t make a difference. The next issue of “The Lurio Report” I hope will include a lot of the detail, which you will take or leave, I know.

    Sorry to get all wound up about this but I wish someone with your intelligence would let the scales drop from his eyes…

  • I’ve said it repeatedly, to you, and to others, in public and in private, I wish XCOR all the best in the world, and would be quite happy if they succeeded. I have also said repeatedly that I am still waiting for them to finally fly something. Regardless of whatever reasons Greason gave for the delays, the delays have been many and long. As some point, you’ve got to get off the ground.

    If XCOR eventually proves me wrong, I will be as thrilled as anyone. I leave it to them to do it. So far, they haven’t.

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