Will XCOR’s Lynx’s spaceplane be reborn as smallsat launcher taking off from California airport?

Capitalism in space: Wagner Star Industries, a startup that now owns the unfinished Lynx spaceplane that bankrupt XCOR had intended for suborbital tourists flights, has signed a agreement with Paso Robles Municipal Airport in California to launch from there.

Wagner’s plan is to reconfigure Lynx as an unmanned first stage that would launch smallsats into orbit. It would launch and land on a runway from Paso Robles.

Wagner Star is in the process of converting the first Lynx vehicle into a drone so it can begin tests, according to the company’s website. The work involves removing life-support systems that had been installed to support the pilot and passenger and installing equipment for remote controlled operation.

Quetzalcóatl would take off from a runway, release its payload in suborbital space, and then glide back to where it took off. The company said it would be able to launch satellites from any commercial airport runway for $5 million per flight. A suborbital flight without a satellite launch would cost $3 million.

A clever plan. I have doubts about the satellite launches, but using this plane to place drones into high altitude where they could then continue to fly for great distances will almost certainly appeal to the military.