Tuesday, September 21, 2010

XCOR Lynx Completes Supersonic Wind Tunnel Tests

This bird is developing smoothly and is built around a superb engine built and tested by XCOR.  They are on track to meet their goals of achieving edge of space trips from a runway takeoff.

I am comfortable that several operators will find several ways to do this and that this will happen over the next several years.  It is not easy but it is no longer impossible nor catastrophically expensive.  We only have to observe the swift development from concept to design confirmation right here and then watch the cutting of metal that will surely already be underway.

Thursday, I posted on the idea of something far more ambitious.  That is to send a space shuttle sized bird up by launching through a launch tunnel built up through a tall mountain using an external acceleration cart on rail while partially evacuating the tunnel ahead of the craft with parallel tunnels.  The air drawn out of from the front of the craft can be sent in behind the craft to perhaps speed it up a bit more.  We can do supersonic wind tunnels.

I only proposed an exit speed approaching the speed of sound at perhaps as little as ten thousand feet.  That we all know can be made to work without destroying the bird.  Yet a mach two exit would be nice and we would leave the lower atmosphere in a fraction of the time.  Engines would fire on exit to rapidly add more acceleration.  My point here is that we can limit the dwell period in the heavy lower atmosphere to perhaps less than a minute and be reaching orbital velocity in the same time frames as present without cooking anything.
My real point is that we need reliable heavy lift capacity.  A tunnel launch system could be made robust enough to send craft aloft as quickly as they could be rolled onto the launch cradle.  It replaces the need for a primary booster and possibly for most cases the need for a secondary stage which could be solid boosters anyway.

XCOR Completes Lynx Supersonic Wind Tunnel Tests at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

XCOR Contact:
Mike Massee
XCOR Aerospace
(661) 824-4714 x127
Email: press@xcor.com

A schlieren image of the Lynx supersonic wind tunnel model at mach 4.0, 10 
degree angle of attack at the NASA MSFC supersonic wind tunnel in Huntsville, AL
September 20, 2010Mojave, CA and Huntsville, AL:  XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced today they have completed the primary supersonic wind tunnel testing of the Lynx suborbital spacecraft. The tests were performed at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) using a precision scale model and demonstrated the integrity of the Lynx aerodynamic shape and provided data to make final refinements to the vehicle. These new data provide confidence that the Lynx aerodynamic shape will have stable and controllable flight throughout the range of Mach numbers and angles of attack needed for the Lynx mission. 
The recent tests add to subsonic wind tunnel testing data obtained by XCOR late last year at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton. As part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), XCOR, NASA and the Air Force will all benefit from the data. The tests are a joint effort between XCOR and the AFRL's Air Vehicles Directorate.

Lynx is a two-seat, single-stage winged suborbital vehicle that lifts off from a runway powered by non-toxic, 
reusable rocket engines. The vehicle can carry safely to the edge of space and back a pilot, one spaceflight participant, and engineering and scientific payloads. The Lynx can be flown up to four times a day with minimal touch labor between flights.

"We continue to make excellent progress on the Lynx aerodynamic shape," said XCOR CEO 
Jeff Greason. "The tests at MSFC gave us live information about the aerodynamic profile of the Lynx in transonic and supersonic flows, which occur during ascent and re-entry. We greatly appreciate the warm welcome and support we received at Marshall."

The trisonic wind tunnel at MSFC, which also tested the 
Jupiter C, Saturn family, and Space Shuttle, evaluates the integrity and stability of rockets and launch vehicles with subsonic, transonic, and supersonic wind flows. 

"Commercial space companies such as XCOR can benefit from NASA's extensive facilities and experienced staff, while NASA benefits from the data generated by innovative designs such as the Lynx spacecraft and interaction with the US commercial space industry," said Jeff Greason. 

Andrew Nelson, XCOR COO added, "These tests complete another milestone toward delivering wet-lease Lynx vehicles and provide a great example of how government and commercial space entrepreneurs can work together to invigorate American industry and rebuild the Tier 2 and Tier 3 aerospace supplier base in our country."
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XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in 
Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies. XCOR is currently working with aerospace prime contractors and government customers on major propulsion systems, and concurrently building the Lynx, a piloted, two seat, fully reusable, liquid rocket powered vehicle that takes off and lands horizontally. The Lynx production models (designated Lynx Mark II) are designed to be robust, multi-commercial mission vehicles capable of flying to 100+ km in altitude up to four times per day and are being offered on a wet lease basis. Research, engineering, and educational communities interested in using the Lynx should contact XCOR directly regarding scientific, earth observation, materials science, upper-atmospheric weather research, and micro-gravity experiments at www.xcor.com. For the general public, advanced ticket sales for a return flight to the edge of space are available at www.rocketshiptours.com


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