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XCOR Lynx – a real spaceship? Naw.

March 26, 2008

XCOR Lynx suborbitalNow, I like XCOR. They have been diligently working on reliable rocket engines for years. One of Jerry Pournelle’s sons works for them. They are on the same flightline at Mojave as Rutan’s Scaled Composites. This little two-man rocket plane, the Lynx, is being developed with a grant from the Air Force. Link

According to the article, it will take off horizontally and land the same way. It has a top speed of Mach 2 and a ceiling of 200,000 feet. I expect the rocket-powered ride up would be exciting, and there’s some free fall at the top of the parabola, but the fact that it is a two-man vehicle, only flies to 200,000 feet – not the magic 50-mile “bottom limit of space” – and only Mach 2 makes it a very expensive little trip. I can’t see it as a serious competitor to Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two. I wonder why they are spending so much time and money on such a low-performance rocket plane. I would expect market analysis would show this to be a difficult market to make a profit in. They must know something I don’t.

Not that there is any surprise there!

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