Next-Generation Spacecraft

  • Erik Seedhouse
Chapter

Abstract

Imagine a spacecraft that can take off from a runway, rocket to suborbital altitudes, and then glide gracefully back to the same runway. It’s a concept that seemed out of reach even 10 years ago but, thanks to the dedicated vision of XCOR and its band of hard-working and gifted engineers, that dream is taking shape in the form of the Lynx. No strap-on boosters or expendable tanks for this puppy. The Lynx, a thoroughbred fully reusable launch vehicle (RLV), can make it to 100 kilometers of altitude under its own steam – a capability that gives it an advantage over other suborbital vehicles such as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which relies on an air-launch system to lift the vehicle to its 15,000-meter release altitude. And then there’s the low operating costs and short turnaround times that enable this new breed of suborbital spaceship to launch up to four times a day. And, whereas you have to drive to the middle of nowhere to get to Spaceport America, which is the operating ground for Virgin Galactic, to take your flight on board the Lynx you can fly commercial to Midland International. Powered by four rocket engines burning liquid oxygen and kerosene, the Lynx will reach Mach 2.9 just three minutes into the flight. The engines will then be turned off and momentum will do the rest, with the Lynx coasting up to 100,000 meters of altitude, where the sole passenger and pilot will experience a little over four minutes of weightlessness. All for just US$150,000.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik Seedhouse
    • 1
  1. 1.Commercial Space OperationsEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityDaytona BeachUSA

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