Suborbital space tourism company Xcor selects ATK to build wings

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Suborbital tourism company Xcor has selected St. George, Utah-based ATK to build the wings and control surfaces of the Lynx Mk. I, currently under construction.

Lynx is a rocket-powered suborbital vehicle that can carry either a pilot and passenger or a pilot and a scientific experiment. Xcor hopes to begin flying the prototype Lynx in early 2013.

The wings are nearing the end of a detailed design phase, after which the first set will enter manufacturing.

"We're trying to wrap up detailed design right now," says Andrew Nelson, Xcor's chief operations officer. "The rest of the vehicle's largely done from a detailed design standpoint, in fact the rest of it is being built and tested."

"Fortunately the wings are probably the easier part," he add. "It's a simple design, it's not a complex design, it's fairly simple in terms of actuation and things like that."

The trickiest part, the liquid rocket engine, has been flying for several years. While previous engines have been pressure-fed, Xcor has begun integrated tests of its liquid oxygen piston pump. The integrated pump is working as expected, says Nelson.