Mojave-based Xcor Aerospace has completed primary supersonic wind tunnel testing of a scale model of its Lynx suborbital spacecraft. The tests, at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, demonstrated the integrity of the vehicle's shape and provided data for what Xcor is describing as "final refinements".
The concept is for a two-seat, single-stage winged suborbital vehicle capable of runway liftoff and landing, with launch power from "non-toxic", reusable rocket engines. The vehicle is being designed for wet-lease operations, to carry to altitudes in excess of 100km (54nm) a pilot, one spaceflight participant, and engineering and scientific payloads.
Xcor intends Lynx to be able to fly up to four times a day with "minimal" between-flight maintenance.
The latest tests add to subsonic wind tunnel testing data obtained late last year at the US Air Force Research Laboratory (USAFRL) in Dayton as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between Xcor, NASA and the USAF.
Xcor chief executive Jeff Greason says the latest wind tunnel tests "gave us live information about the aerodynamic profile of the Lynx in transonic and supersonic flows, which occur during ascent and re-entry."
Xcor is believed to be investigating potential military applications of suborbital technology, and Lynx is expected to be a demonstration vehicle for testing USAFRL technologies relevant to operationally responsive space missions such as rapid satellite deployment capability.