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Space Businesses Transportation

Space Tourism Industry Gains New Competitor 104

mattnyc99 writes "There's a new entry in the race for the first space tourism jet: XCOR Aerospace, a California-based rocket builder. The company says its clean-burning, two-seat Lynx spacecraft will lift off by 2010. After we only saw a mockup of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo a couple months back, you'd think this was serious competition in the 'New Space' race, but these photos show that Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites is well on its way with construction."
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Space Tourism Industry Gains New Competitor

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  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @03:35PM (#22885330) Journal
    The xcor is designed to go with 2 ppl to 63 miles, will use rockets the entire way, and hits mach 2 at the top of the peak. OTH, SSII is designed to take 8 ppl to 120 Miles, will use jet to get up to 600 MPH, and hits mach 3. In addition, the SSII can be modified to carry small cargo and launch it. It is possible for SSII to launch small rockets akin to Orbital's, but carrying more payload.

    What I am waiting to see is Virgin to decide to talk to Bigelow. In fact, I would be surprised if he has not talked to both Spacex AND bigelow. The reason is that he will want to put up a hotel and get the traffic going. Once he has traffic to a hotel, then it will make pursuing the SSIII quite a bit easier.
  • Re:Pretty Impressive (Score:3, Informative)

    by wattrlz ( 1162603 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @03:59PM (#22885626)
    These guys (and whoever's keeping them in business) seem to think so:
    • www.gozerog.com/
    • www.spaceadventures.com/
    • www.incredible-adventures.com/zerog.html
  • Re:Two Notes (Score:3, Informative)

    by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @04:37PM (#22886108) Journal
    Somewhat O/T, but I just finished the book Strange Angel by George Pendle, which chronicles the origins of professional rocketry programs in the U.S. I have a whole new appreciation for how far we have come now that I know more about where things started.

    The book reveals some truly bizarre goings on with the founders of the rocketry movement and includes appearances by Alistair Crowley, cultists, famous sci-fi authors, communists, and a swindling L. Ron Hubbard prior to the founding of Scientology.

    I thought I was fairly well versed in the origins of the U.S. space program, but it turns out I didn't know the first thing.

    This guy is the main focus of the book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Whiteside_Parsons [wikipedia.org]

    Definitely worth a read if only for insight into L. Ron's past, but hearing about the meager beginnings of JPL among others was fascinating.

    Happy reading.
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @04:50PM (#22886260) Journal
    The linked article is a little sparse on info, so here's XCOR's press release [xcor.com] and a more informative article: XCOR Unveils New Suborbital Rocketship [space.com]

    Also, some additional points worth noting:

    • XCOR [wikipedia.org] isn't just some random wannabe company which recently hopped onto the "space tourism" bandwagon. They're a small (30-person) but well-respected private company noted for their expertise in building reusable liquid-fueled rocket engines.
    • In 2001 they first flew their XCOR EZ-Rocket [wikipedia.org], which made regular demonstration flights at air shows for a few years and in 2005 set the distance record [space.com] for a point-to-point rocket powered takeoff and landing.
    • XCOR has a reputation for not tooting its own horn, instead working quietly and being rather conservative about its announcements.
    • Their first version will go up to 61km, and they're planning on making incremental improvements to produce a second version that goes to 110km.
    • Estimated total project cost is $10 million, with a passenger ticket price of ~$100K (half of Virgin Galactic). XCOR isn't planning on selling tickets directly to customers though, instead selling to ride operators who will deal with customer themselves.
    • They already have a deal with a private research lab to fly multiple research flights for them each year.
    • This quote from XCOR chief Jeff Greason explains their philosophy quite nicely: Lynx is seen by XCOR Aerospace as one piece of a larger roadmap of vehicles -- a start small and then add performance approach -- eventually culminating in a piloted orbital system, Greason said. "We've selected the basket of technologies ... technologies that we believe position us very well for the suborbital market, but also put us on the road for later, higher-performance systems," he explained.
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:46PM (#22886908)

    Where do you arrive at that conclusion? Having interned at XCOR, that's not at all my understanding. They are building the Rocket Racer, they built and flew the EZ-Rocket, and they've been publicly discussing Xerus in vague terms for years. (Xerus is the former public name for Lynx.) I interpret this announcement as a good thing, both for XCOR and the industry as a whole.

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