Xcor has announced delivery of the first flight-capable fuselage of its Lynx horizontal-takeoff suborbital spacecraft. The fuselage's delivery to the factory, a major milestone in construction of the first vehicle, took place on 17 February.
"Currently we are going over the fuselage and checking everything, all the dimensions, and also starting to make adaptors and things," said Xcor. "The next major thing that's going to happen is the engine truss will be mounted to the fuselage."
The engine truss, which will hold all the XR-5K18 liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket motor and its components, is nearing completion, and is scheduled for integration with the fuselage by April.
"There are other major parts on order right now that will be coming in over the next few months," said Xcor. "They include strakes and eventually the wing." Xcor is also soliciting bids for the cockpit pressure cabin, a complex composite structure that the company says is too large to build at its in-house facilities in Mojave, California.
The spacecraft is scheduled for completion in late 2012, with flight tests beginning shortly thereafter.
Progress on the motor is ongoing. The oxidizer piston pump is on the verge of its first tests with the liquid oxygen. "We're an engine house," said chief operating officer Andrew Nelson, "we don't worry about the engine."
Xcor is cooperating with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to replace the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL-10 as an upper stage for the Lockheed Martin Atlas V. The Atlas V is one of two evolved expendable launch vehicles (EELV) that form the backbone of US launch capabilities.
"We're going a lot of work with [ULA] on the rocket propellant system pump, and we're going to be testing that with liquid hydrogen later this year [or] early next year," said Xcor.
Xcor also announced it has raised $5 million from investors, which the company says is enough to bring them through initial flight testing.