We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Lynx announced

XCOR’s press conference will start in LA in a couple hours and I have just found that the embargo on the Lynx Spaceplane press release has been lifted. For those few lucky ones who happened to catch my earlier article and then wondered why it vanished, it was due to a communications SNAFU. The person who sent me the info forgot to state it was embargoed so I blogged it. An hour later I received a frantic phone call whilst I was watching a DVD and pulled it as soon as he explained the mistake.

In any case, there is now a lot more information about the Lynx showing up. Rand Simberg, one of my business partners, will be there and no doubt live blogging it.

Disclosures: I might add that I spent several months doing software support for the aerodynamics guy. :-)

Lynx artist conception
The Lynx will fly within two years with Astronaut Searfoss at the controls.
Image: With thanks to XCOR.

19 comments to Lynx announced

  • Very, very, very cool stuff Dale.

    Good luck to you and Mr. Simberg!

  • renminbi

    WOW! What will a ride cost? In the early 90s the Russkis were charging $10,000 for a Fulcrum ride.

  • renminbi

    Great.How much will a ride cost? The Russkis were charging $10,000 for a Fulcrum ride after the Evil Empire collapsed.

  • Ian B

    At the risk of sounding like an old Eeyore, and as a lifelong “space fan”, I have to admit I can’t quite see the point of this “space tourism”. An extremely brief sub-orbital flight, then you’re home again. In this case, sitting next to the pilot and thus having that slight awkwardness about whether to talk to the cab driver or not. “Yes, I’m 4th on the right after Patel’s” kind of thing.

    You can’t really do anything while you’re up there and there’s not really that much to see, besides the curvature of the Earth. I can see early adopters going for it as a status symbol/display of wealth disposal but where does this thing go after that?

    It’s like, when I was a child in the “Space Age” I thrilled to the idea of living and working in space, and people having holidays on space hotels. But all a space hotel has actually got going for it is low gravity which would be quite fun perhaps but that’s it. No beach, sea or delightful countryside, no local customs and food, architecture or places of interest.

    Or what about a moon hotel? Look out your window every day at a drab landscape of rocks and mountains that look like piles of sand, which you can’t ever touch and can only go out into wearing a bulky space suit. One of the things that’s struck me about the photos from the moon and, moreso, from the Mars rovers is that while they’re fascinating from a geeky perspective, aesthetically these lifeless planets are incredibly, mind numblingly dull. Rocks, sand, more rocks, more sand.

    I’m just really not sure where the actual commercial appeal is.

  • Tanuki

    it’s a nice idea… but methinks the cockpit’s gonna need some serious redesign. All those sharp edges are stress-raiser hell when you’re talking about both pressure-cycle and thermal-stress loads, and they’ll also create an Imperial fsckload of unpredictable vortices at +++Mach.

  • Dale Amon

    Tanaku: Perhaps, but these folk are not amateurs. Beyond that, due to my own ties to some of the design software, I cannot discuss.

    Ian: I think their business plan will survive you not wishing to go. There are more than enough who do.

  • Ian B

    Dale, I’m just saying that taking of and landing again in a plane isn’t really that riveting an experience, even if you get to sit in the cockpit. Offer a 5 Star orbital hotel with a zero-G swimming pool and naked chambermaids, then I’ll buy a ticket.

    But a high altitude plane flight? I’m sure in the early days just getting to fly in a bi-plane seemed exciting enough, but soon it became just a dull means of transportation. Where is this “space tourism” going? I’m sorry to be a damp squib, but this sort of technology doesn’t seem to be a step towards “opening up space” any more than jumping is a step on the road towards flying.

  • Pa Annoyed

    People look for different things in their tourist destinations. Some people go for an interval of luxury. Some go for the challenge of getting there. Others go simply to know that they’ve been there – somewhere significant, famous, unusual, strange, or new.

    There are people I know who spend their spare time and money pot-holing: crawling down muddy, wet, cramped, dark holes in the ground. They’ll dive through sumps and abseil down vertical shafts and wade through underground rivers that fill their boots with water and soak them to the skin. And when they’ve got to the bottom, where you might find some nice stalactites, they’ll wade all the way back – uphill.

    They do it for fun. I know, I used to do it myself.

    So I don’t find it at all incredible that there will be plenty of people who will want to fly into space, simply for the thrill of being there for a moment, and for the memories it will give them. The kick of the 4g rollercoaster re-entry would probably feel pretty good, too.

    Yes it won’t appeal to everyone – the lying-on-the-beach-being-massaged-by-beautiful-chicks people, or the getting-vomit-drunk-in-Benidorm-and-dancing-all-night people no doubt wouldn’t be interested. But the climbing-mountains people will love it.

    Dale, let me know when the price comes down to about $20k – I might give it a go myself, then.

  • Dale Amon

    Ian: And I believe you are wrong. No one gives you financing to build an orbital craft from the ground up; you do not put together a team to do space craft in a new way and start with the end product.
    You do what XCOR has done. They built a little rocket plane that demonstrated reliable and safe operations and even in the air restarts. Then they built bigger engines. They got contracts for building components. Then they built the Rocket Racer, a rocket plane with a bigger engine, longer endurance and with an emphasis on inexpensive operations.

    Then they got bigger contracts for rocket engines and parts.

    Next they are building a suborbital rocket plane. They have experienced people and a proven capability to start from. If Lynx works out, that is another cash stream. Then there will be the next rocket plane, and the next, and the next. Each step creates the financial base for the next, builds the experience, builds the team, builds the unwritten knowhow.

    I really do not believe there is any other way to do it unless you have a pet Billionaire as the CEO. XCOR doesn’t.

    Yes, joyrides in biplanes are not quite as big a thing as they once were. But they were one of the stages that built the commercial aviation industry. You have to take the little steps to build the financial base.

  • Jesus Ian, if people want to pay huge amounts of money to ride in a plane in subspace why would you want to rain on their parade?

    Free trade at work! I give you money, you fling me up towards the heavens. Then ideally you return me home in one piece. The end.

    A beautiful thing, no?

    Lighten up Francis.

  • WalterBowsell

    If I had the wonga I’d go up, but then I’m a Rooooooooooooooooket man.

  • Eric

    Definitely doesn’t appeal to me, but I sure hope it works out. In theory rocket engines are less complicated that jet engines, and going to orbit takes about the same energy as going from LA to Sydney on a 747. What’s missing is enough volume to get the price down. An operations-centric company has the potential to clean up, both government and civilian contracts.

  • Ignore Ian B, he is just a bit peeved that there won’t be room for gay hobbit porn.

  • “Yes, joyrides in biplanes are not quite as big a thing as they once were.”

    Maybe not that big but there are people here in south east Queensland making livings out of giving people rides in biplanes.

  • Dale Amon

    Yes, and in the UK and US as well. You understood my point though.

  • Laird

    I’d go, if the cost isn’t prohibitive. And, for that matter, I’d like to try a flight in a biplane, too; just haven’t had the opportunity yet.

    In an earlier post on this site someone recommended the book “Rocketeers”, by Michael Belfiore, which describes private-sector space travel developments. Good book. It has a chapter on XCOR and the Rocket Racing Team. These sound like smart people who really know what they’re doing. I wish them well.

  • Nick M

    Walter,
    That was evil. There is only one possible response.

  • Paul Marks

    Good luck to the Lynx – and to those connected with the project.