A. XCOR

Who is XCOR?

XCOR is a leading commercial spacecraft manufacturer founded in 1999 in Mojave, California. XCOR produces spacecraft, fully reusable rocket engines, and related technologies to enable space access for individuals, private enterprises, universities and nations.

XCOR is represented by three different divisions:

XCOR Aerospace develops rocket-propelled spacecraft and aircraft, and custom order rocket propulsion systems and components. XCOR Lynx spacecraft are available to government and commercial customers on a wet lease basis.

XCOR Space Expeditions sells private space flights to individuals, preparatory trainings and space-related experiences, multi-flight packages to promotional clients. The division manages a network of independent resellers.  

XCOR Science manages all payloads and experiments missions on board Lynx. The division provides opportunities for customized support from dedicated Payload Integrators.

Where is XCOR located?

XCOR Aerospace is located in Mojave, California, and is expanding to Texas and Florida. XCOR is currently building a Research and Development Center in Midland, Texas. XCOR Aerospace will also be establishing an operational and manufacturing site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

XCOR Space Expeditions is located at XCOR’s regional office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The Chinese market (mainland and Hong Kong) is managed through XCOR’s subsidiary company XCOR Space Expeditions Asia – which maintains its office in Hong Kong.

What is XCOR’s track record with its engine program?

XCOR has designed and developed rocket engines since 1999.

This includes:

  • 15 generations of rocket engines,
  • Approximately 5000 test fires,
  • 67 flights on two different types of rocket airplanes.

The XCOR Lynx main engine has been on the test stand since December 2009 and has performed very well.

All tests and flights were successful and without incident

B. Lynx

What is XCOR Lynx?

XCOR Lynx is a high-performance, fully reusable spacecraft that will take off and land from a runway under rocket power.

There are three planned versions of Lynx:

  •    Lynx Mark I is the initial prototype spacecraft and will be placed in commercial service after being licensed to launch. Mark I will fly to altitudes of approx. 60km (200,000ft, or 37 miles).
  •    Lynx Mark II is the production model. It will use the same propulsion and avionics as Lynx Mark I, but will be lighter – allowing it to reach higher altitudes. Mark II will fly to approx. 100km (328,000 feet, 62 miles).
  •    Lynx Mark III is a modified derivate of Lynx Mark II, with an external mounted pod to allow it carry up second stage propulsion or up to 650 kg of research payload, such as a space telescope. It features a number of enhancements including upgraded landing gear, structures, and propulsion and integrates with XCOR provided upper stage engines capable of inserting a micro- or nano-satellite into Low Earth Orbit.

Lynx Mark III will be produced after Lynx Mark II and can only operate from the US.

Are there further commercial possibilities on the Lynx than just participant flights?

XCOR Lynx can transport private individuals to sub-orbital space but also has four distinct payload locations for commercial, research and educational missions. Lynx can also be used to launch micro and nano satellites into orbit. Contact payloads@xcor.com for more information.

What are the dimensions of the Lynx vehicle?

XCOR Lynx:

  • 9.1 meters long (30 feet)
  • Wingspan of 7.3 meters (24 feet)

How many passengers will travel into space on board Lynx?

One Space Flight Participant will fly with one XCOR pilot-astronaut onboard most Lynx flights, which makes each Lynx flight a singular and truly memorable experience.

Lynx seats two: the pilot and participant

Lynx operations allow for up to four flights a day

What kind of fuel does Lynx consume?

Lynx fuel consists of high-grade jet fuel (Kerosene) & Liquid Oxygen.

Why Kerosene & Liquid Oxygen?

  •    Kerosene and Liquid Oxygen are safe to use and handle.
  •    Both are abundant.
  •    Similar to a NASCAR or Formula 1 team, cleaner, safer fuel types allow XCOR engineers the freedom to rapidly develop an engine, and ground crew the ability to execute “gas and go” operations,
  •    Liquid propellants allow for easy to maintain reusable engines. With its proprietary piston pump technology, XCOR can build on more than a century of automotive insights to power up to four flights per day.

What is the Lynx development plan?

Lynx Mark I

Lynx Mark I subsystems and structures are currently being integrated and assembled at Hangar 61 in Mojave, California. Rollout and the commencement of the flight test program are anticipated to occur in the latter half of 2017, into 2018.

Once the Lynx Mark I flight test program commences, it will last for 6-18 months, with over 50-200 flights in total. Commercial flights will commence soon after the completion of the flight test program.

XCOR has successfully completed supersonic and subsonic wind tunnel tests, as well as 66 test flights in 2 concept demonstrators.

Lynx Mark II

The Lynx Mark II will begin construction and assembly during the Lynx Mark I development and test program. The Lynx Mark II is the production version of Lynx.

Who will fly Lynx?

Chief Test Pilot Colonel Richard A. Searfoss (USAF, Ret.) is a two-time Space Shuttle Pilot and one-time Space Shuttle Commander and former US Air Test Pilot. Searfoss has logged over 939 hours in space, along with 5400 hours flying time in 61 different types of aircraft. His first space flight in 1993 set the record for the longest duration Space Shuttle mission. In 1996 he piloted Atlantis to the Russian space station, Mir.

Senior Test Pilot and Senior Engineer Brian Binnie piloted the award-winning Ansari X-Prize flight, with over 5,300 hrs of flight time in 85 different aircraft types and 29 yrs. experience as a test pilot.

Director of Flight Test Operations Harry van Hulten has flown over 3,000 hours in 42 different types of aircraft, including various high performance fighters, with 2,600 hours in the F-16. Van Hulten completed the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training and the F-16 Weapons Instructor Course, and became an experimental test pilot at USAF Test Pilot School.

What is the lifespan of an XCOR engine?

XCOR Lynx engines are built to last for hundreds of Lynx flights. 

What opportunities are there for becoming a Lynx owner-operator, or creating a Lynx spaceline?

XCOR offers a wet-lease program in which spaceline investors and partners “wet lease” a Lynx spacecraft to develop their own spaceline or space program. XCOR maintains the daily operations and maintenance of the spacecraft. For more information on a Lynx wet lease, contact lynx@xcor.com.

C. Flight

Can you describe the flight?

Lynx takes off horizontally from a standard runway. It accelerates faster than a Formula 1 car, is supersonic in one minute, and boosts to Mach 3 at over 2,000 MPH. 

At 1.6 minutes after engine cutoff (occurring at ~3 minutes into the flight), Lynx continues to coast upwards on stored energy, slowing until it reaches peak altitude, or apogee, then dropping back down.

Flight to apogee is ~5 minutes total.

At apogee, the participant experiences weightlessness for 5 minutes, then descends back toward Earth.

Imagine throwing a football high up in the air, eventually it gets to the top (apogee) of its trajectory, then falls back to Earth. Once it re-enters the atmosphere, Lynx is on a horizontal glide and arrives back at its runway.

Lynx return flights are a long glide, so participants are able to enjoy even more of the view. 

How many times will the Lynx vehicle fly per day?

XCOR projects a maximum of four flights per day, per Lynx spacecraft. 

What is the total length of a Lynx flight?

Mark I (Pioneer Program): Between 30 – 45 minutes

Mark II-Mark III (Founder and Future Program): Between 45 – 60 minutes

How many G-forces do participants experience on ascent?

During ascent, G-forces are experienced as a gradual workup from 1g to 3g.
At engine light, Lynx is heavier (due to fuel) so it accelerates at about +1g. Over 3.5 minutes of engine burn, Lynx becomes increasingly lighter and accelerates faster. At engine cutoff Lynx pulls about 3g.

How many G forces on the descent?

During descent, G-forces are experienced as a gradual workup from 0g to 4g. Participants will experience the highest G-load during atmospheric re-entry for 20 seconds to reduce speed of Lynx.

Is there weightlessness, and for how long?

Yes. After engine cutoff (at about 3 minutes into the flight), Lynx continues to coast upwards on stored energy, decelerating until peak altitude, or apogee, 1.6 minutes later. Flight to apogee is 5 minutes total. After that you descend back towards Earth. During the time between engine cutoff and re-entry participants will feel atmospheric forces slowing Lynx down, and experience weightlessness. This will last for about 5 minutes.

What is the maximum altitude for Lynx?

Lynx Mark I maximum altitude is approximately 61 km (200,000feet/38 miles)

Lynx Mark II maximum altitude is approximately 103 km (328,000feet/62 miles), just past the Karman line.

When is the expected launch date of the first test flight?

We expect to start Lynx Mark I test flights in 2018. The flight test program will consist of 50-200 flights over 6-18 months. Commercial flights will commence at the end of the flight test program. 

What infrastructure is required for Lynx operations?

Lynx spacecraft operate somewhat like commercial aircraft during liftoff. An airport with a runway, radio communication and appropriate operations licensing is required. A custom-built spaceport is not necessary.

What differentiates XCOR Lynx?

  • Participants sit right next to the pilot in Lynx’s cockpit, and experience a full glass canopy view of the darkness of space and curvature of the earth (a 180-degree view, or 45.2 square foot canopy)
  • With a side-by-side, two-seat cockpit configuration, Lynx participants are part of the mission rather than just a passenger
  • Lynx takes off and lands from the same runway, without a carrier aircraft and under its own power
  • From the moment the journey starts, Lynx is under rocket power until engine cutoff ~3 minutes after engine light
  • Lynx is fully reusable and built to fly up to four times per day
  • Thermocyclic fatigue: Imagine bending a spoon back and forth until it breaks. This sort of erosion happens in rocket engines on a routine basis. XCOR’s proprietary approach has eliminated this problem in Lynx main engines, giving them a far longer life

E. Safety

What are the safety features onboard Lynx?

Safety is XCOR’s highest priority.

  •    XCOR and Lynx rocket engines have been tested over 5000 times, with no hard starts
  •    Lynx has four main rocket engines each able to operate independently from one another. This increases the level of safety on each Lynx flight
  •    XCOR rocket engines shut down and restarted at the flip of a switch, so that even after engine light the Lynx pilot has the option to return home
  •    All XCOR pilot-astronauts and participants wear pressure suits, and are equipped with a parachute

F. Space Programs

What space flight programs does XCOR offer?

  •    Pioneer program.Lynx Space Flight Participants will fly on the Lynx Mark I spacecraft. This spacecraft takes participants up to a height of 60 km (200,000 feet). This program is expected to commence by the end of 2016 from a US based spaceport. A 3-night stay at a luxury hotel in the vicinity of the spaceport is included in the ticket prize.
  •    Founder Astronaut program. The sold out Founder Astronaut Program is an exclusive program of only 100 members, the first 100 to go to 100+ km altitude, which is internationally acknowledged as the frontier of space, called the Karman Line. The Space Flight Participant will become an official astronaut. Once the Lynx Mark II is nearly ready to fly commercially, a raffle event will be organized and slots will be assigned to all 100 Founders. This program is expected to commence one year after the first commercial flights on the Lynx Mark I. Founder flights with the Lynx Mark II vehicle will depart from Spaceport Curaçao. This Founder Program includes a complementary training mission, a 3-night stay in a luxury hotel on Curaçao and extras.
  •    Future Astronaut program. The Future Astronaut will embark on the Lynx Mark II after the 100 Founder Astronauts have gone into space. A slot number will be assigned to the Future Astronaut upon receipt of the full fare. This program also includes a 3-night stay in a luxury hotel and Space Flight Participants will fly with the Lynx Mark II spaceship from Spaceport Curaçao or Mojave Air & Space Port.

G. Costs & Cancellation

What are the costs of a space ticket?

  • Pioneer Program (#1-40): Price on request
  • Pioneer Program (# 41 and onwards): $150,000 USD
  • Founder Program (#1-100): $100,000 SOLD OUT
  • Future Program (#101 and onwards): $150,000 USD

Contact sales@xcor.com to book your place in space. 

What is the trip Delay or Cancellation agreement?

XCOR has an insurance agreement with Aon. In case the Space Flight Participant is unable to fly due to unfortunate circumstances (such as a serious illness), he/she may be entitled to a partial refund. This policy is included in the ticket price. Refunds range from partial refunds to full fare. This diagram shows you eventual refund possibilities, while also highlighting eventual postponements of the flight for an array of circumstance: view the diagram here.

H. Flight participants

What are the physical requirements for passengers to fly in Lynx?

Participants must be able to pass XCOR’s medical physical examination process. Requirements are:

  • Must be over 18, but otherwise there is no specific age limit,
  • Eligibility to fly is dependent on overall fitness,
  • Spacecraft performance is determined by maximum weight, the limit to reach the full 100km / 328,000 feet is currently estimated to be around 113kg / 250lbs.
  • Participant’s arms must work to operate the door in case of emergency.
  • XCOR reserves the right to make case-by-case judgments based on individual circumstances.

Health conditions which may or do fully prevent potential participants from flying onboard Lynx: pregnancy, back problems, heart disease, major lung disease, and claustrophobia. If a Space Flight Participant does not pass the medical screening, a refund is issued.

Is there a height limit for Lynx participants?

Participants must be under 207cm tall (6’9”). However, this limit depends on a combination of back length and total length. If the future astronaut is as tall as or taller than 2 meters, please consult with XCOR. 

Is there a weight limit for the Lynx participants?

Maximum weight is determines spacecraft performance, the limit to reach the maximum altitude is currently estimated to be around 113kg (250lbs). Ability to fit in the seat is also an issue in case of excessive weight.

What is the minimum and maximum age for participants on Lynx?

The minimum is 18 years of age. There is no maximum as long as the Space Flight Participant passes medical checks and is approved by XCOR to fly.

What does the medical test entail?

Space Flight Participants will have their blood pressure, vision, hearing, heart function tested. A physical agility test will be performed which involves lifting objects, reaching and stooping.

I. Training Missions

Are training missions mandatory?

 Every participant will be provided with an academics course the day before the actual flight. This course entails a mission briefing given by the pilot and the emergency procedures.
Moreover, every Flight Participant should experience 4Gs for at least 20 seconds. Therefore, all space programs include a 4G aerobatic training mission. XCOR offers, at an extra cost, additional trainings that prepare the astronaut even better for the actual sub-orbital flight.

What are the training missions available?

 XCOR currently offers four different training sessions, listed below:

  •    G-force Flight: Aerobatic Trainer (Slingsby Firefly/ SIAI Marchetti airplanes)
  •    G-force Flight: Fighter Trainer (L-39 Albatros Fighter)
  •    Simulator Training: Desdemona
  •    Zero-G Flight

What are the costs of the additional training missions XCOR offers?

XCOR Space Expeditions has secured a special rate for each type of training – but they are subject to change. Please contact marco@xcor.com for more information on the most current rates.

What are the medical and physical limitations for the XCOR training missions?

All candidates need to have passed their medical screening with XCOR. For each training mission there are some restrictions:

  •    G-force Flight: Aerobatic Trainer: Maximum weight: 113 Kg. (including clothing) & Maximum length: 193 cm
  •    G-force Flight: Fighter Trainer: Maximum weight: 105 Kg. (excluding clothing) & Maximum length: 195 cm (Max length of seating level until the top of the head: 98cm)
  •    Simulator Training: Desdemona: To be able to fit in the chair and buckle up. If above 205 cm and 115kg please consult marco@xcor.com
  •    Zero-G Flight: No real physical limitations in terms of weight and height, but participant needs to pass an ECG

Are you allowed to participate in the G-force flight: Fighter Trainer as a non-ticket holder?

No, you are not allowed to participate in this training if you are not an XCOR ticket holder.

D. Payloads

What is a payload?

Payloads are cargo experiments that are flown on Lynx into sub-orbital space. These experiments are created by students, individuals and companies who wish to conduct sub-orbital and microgravity research and technology development. On board Lynx, experimenters can conduct in-situ and remote sensing measurements, and microgravity experiments. Opportunities also exist for human-tended payloads and to wet-lease a Lynx vehicle for research as part of a space program. 

What is the purpose of sub-orbital research and what types of research can be done aboard Lynx?

XCOR Lynx design and operations are tailored to support sub-orbital research for a variety of areas, some of which are outlined below.

Aeronomy/Weather/Climate

Often deemed the “Ignorosphere” by the scientific community, Earth’s Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere hold an incredibly unexplored environment that forms the boundary between Earth and space weather and could provide more information about our climate. This part of the atmosphere hosts interesting phenomena such as Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances, electrical discharge phenomena, meteorites, noctilucent clouds, temperature and tide phenomena, the Auroras. Lynx will provide external access for in-situ, sampling missions.

Microgravity Research

Sub-orbital research missions provide micro-gravity research capabilities at a fraction of the cost of going to the International Space Station and longer periods and high quality of microgravity than drop-towers or parabolic flights. Microgravity research is crucial to biological/biotech, chemical, physical, material, fluid, and combustion sciences.

Remote Sensing

Researchers and instruments can either observe down on Earth or up to space utilizing Lynx steer-and-pointing maneuvers. Remote Sensing observations can include asset-tracking (i.e. observing traffic corridors, agricultural survey), emergency response (i.e. observing forest fires), solar and planetary research, calibrating space based instruments with co-located sub-orbital observations, observing atmospheric phenomena.

Technology Development

With four flights a day, Lynx will provide a far more meaningful pace of access to the space and microgravity than ever before. The capability to perform experiments onboard Lynx, adjust variables and fly again in hours, will lead to meaningful leap in the pace of research and technology development. Lynx is a platform to raise the Technology Readiness Level of technology bound for Low Earth Orbit and beyond.

Where are the payload areas onboard Lynx?

Lynx can carry in-cabin and external payloads. Payloads are located behind the pilot’s seat, in cowling ports on the tail of the plane, and in the case of Payload B, the participant seat can be removed and replaced with payloads. Visit xcor.com/launch/payloads to read more.

What kind of experiments can be performed onboard Lynx?

The experiments can be anything you imagine and Lynx can be part of a dedicated mission. As long as the payload fits and is verified safe by our team, it can fly.

Customers are designing science payloads that are related to and involve every field of interest. For example, customers are measuring radiation, capturing micrometeorites, observing solar wave dynamics on the sun, growing protein crystals, learning about the formation of asteroids, and evaluating the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

Customers will be using Lynx for technology development and will be testing if their satellites and instruments function in space before they are operational in Low Earth Orbit or beyond. Schools will be using Lynx as their own space-based laboratory. 

What kind of offerings does XCOR provide for research experiments?

Each payload has access to power as well as data from our ship including altitude, velocity and g-force. Specialty, hardware data and design services can be provided by our Payload Integrators. 

How much does it cost to send up a payload?

Costs range from about $5,000 USD to $100,000 USD depending on the size of the payload slot. Contact payloads@xcor.com for prices and offerings.

How do I learn more about research and education missions?

You can request the Payload User’s Guide that provides all necessary information and instructions. Contact XCOR Science at payloads@xcor.com

What are benefits of conducting research on Lynx?

  • Rapid call up
  • Frequent flights
  • Fast turn around between flights
  • Dedicated payload flights
  • Benign environmental conditions
  • In-cockpit and externally exposed experiments
  • Opportunity for human in the loop payload missions
  • Service from dedicated, professional Payload Integrators