Xcor Aerospace has assembled a full-scale, high-fidelity model of its two-seat Lynx suborbital spaceplane at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight. The annual event kicks off Oct. 17 in Las Cruces, N.M., near the Spaceport America facility where Virgin Galactic plans to operate its larger SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle for tourists and researchers.
Andrew Nelson, Xcor's chief operating officer (shown below), says flight testing will begin next year, with a first suborbital flight possible before the end of 2013. The mockup includes a first look at the cockpit where an Xcor pilot and one paying passenger will fly from a runway to 100 km and back to the runway.
Power will come from a fully reusable rocket propulsion system of four XR-5K18 rocket engines burning kerosene and liquid oxygen, which the company says will permit as many as four flights to space a day. That rapid-reflight capability should make the Lynx attractive to scientists who need to adjust their experimental parameters and retest them quickly.
Video Credit: William Faulkner/Aviation Week & Space Technology