XCOR Lynx suborbital spacecraft

XCOR Aerospace has acquired Space Expedition Corporation, the previously independent Dutch company which served as general sales agent for the XCOR Lynx and XCOR’s first wet-lease customer. The new sales entity, XCOR Space Expeditions, will continue to focus on sales, commercial partnerships, and participant training on a global level. XCOR Space Expeditions will also serve as a sales channel for future wet-lease customers.

According to a press statement, the acquisition signals XCOR’s commitment to being “the most active space flight company in the world,” with the highest frequency of flights and fastest learning curve.

“For the past two years, SXC has provided XCOR Aerospace with an expanding roster of new customers and commercial partners,” XCOR chief executive officer Jeff Greason said. “We look forward to making the most of their expertise and insights with customers and commercial partners. With their sales and marketing engine now a part of the XCOR brand, we deepen the connection between customers and Lynx.”

“As a founder of SXC, and through my background in e-Business and Formula One, I understand that exceptional engineering and design are vital for performance and the overall customer experience,” said Michiel Mol, a new XCOR board member. “XCOR Aerospace is the best I’ve seen in spacecraft and rocket engine design. XCOR Space Expeditions will provide direct connection to the XCOR brand and more up-to-date information about Lynx for individual ticket holders, wet-lease customers,and commercial partners.”

Written by Astro1 on June 30th, 2014 , XCOR Aerospace

Scaled Composites SpaceShip One / White Knight

Ten years ago today, on 21 June 2004, Mike Melvill flew SpaceShip One to an altitude of 100.124 kilometers, becoming the first pilot to qualify for the FAA’s commercial astronaut wings. The flight was a milestone for Scaled Composites in its quest to win the $10-million Ansari X-Prize, which was finally won on 4 October 2004.

At the time, many people assumed that suborbital spaceflight would soon be commonplace. Today, however, some view the event with ambiguity, if not disappointment, as commercial suborbital flights have not yet begun.

When viewed in systems-engineering terms, the delay in the start of the commercial operations should not be considered surprising, though, or cause for great concern. The late G. Harry Stine pointed out that human beings tend to view progress in linear terms. Our brains are hard-wired that way. But, in fact, technological progress and economic growth (like biological growth and most other natural phenomena) are not linear. They follow exponential growth curves.

As a result, Stine pointed out, human beings almost always overestimate what can be accomplished in the near term and underestimate what can be accomplished in the long term.

What we are seeing today, with delays in suborbital spaceflight, confirms the first half of Stine’s prediction. There is every reason to believe that suborbital spaceflight will confirm the second half of his prediction, too, in the years to confirm — as did computing, communications, aviation, and many other industries.

Written by Astro1 on June 21st, 2014 , Scaled Composites

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two second powered test flight

NASA and Virgin Galactic have announced twelve experiments to fly on the SpaceShip Two research flight. The experiments were selected by NASA through its Flight Opportunities Program.

The twelve experiments span a range of topics including biological monitoring, on-orbit propellant storage, and next-generation air traffic control systems. As required by the Flight Opportunities Program, each payload is an engineering experiment designed to advance a field relevant to NASA’s overall technology roadmap.

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Written by Astro1 on June 3rd, 2014 , Virgin Galactic