New rocket aims for space tourism market

( AP )- Entrepreneurs of the new commercial space age plan to start test flights in 2010 of a practical four-engine rocket ship that will take people on Mach 2 thrill rides up to 200,000 feet and which also has the interest of the Air Force.

The design of the Lynx rocket was shown off Wednesday by Xcor Aerospace, a Mojave, Calif.-based company that has spent nine years developing rocket engines.

Fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, the two-seat ship - a bit more slender than a small executive jet - is intended to operate like an airliner, making up to four flights a day while using runways for takeoffs and landings like a normal airplane.

CEO Jeff Greason withheld specifics of costs and technical details at a news conference but said he was certain investors will finance construction of the Lynx, which he estimated from will cost "south of $10 million," not including previous development costs.

Xcor has been in talks with companies that may operate Lynx spacecraft for space tourism, Greason said without naming them.

"We don't usually discuss a lot of the details of our projects until the hardware rolls out and that's not so much because of some deep-seated desire to be secret as it is that we don't want to tie the hands of our engineers by saying too much too soon," Greason said.

But he said the decision to talk about the Lynx was primarily due to the involvement of the Air Force, which under a contract has been receiving reports on the progress of Xcor's design work for the past year and recently notified the company it will continue that under a Phase Two contract.

"That will allow them to share in our lessons learned during the program and also to use our vehicle as a test bed for some technologies that they are interested in," Greason said.

Coming two months after British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic unveiled a model of SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger vehicle that may begin flight tests this year, the Xcor announcement suggested that real competition is nearing in the infant industry of space tourism.

Greason said that since various companies are offering different vehicles that will provide different experiences, "we thought it was time to let the potential travelers know what the options were out there so they can start thinking about what their plans need to be."

Greason wouldn't discuss what Lynx operators might charge for a ride, but he said Xcor's price to operators should allow them to charge passengers half what others charge. The ability to launch four times a day will make up for the fact that the Lynx will only carry one passenger at a time, he said.

The Lynx will have a pressurized cabin but the pilot and passenger will wear helmets and pressure suits for safety. Passengers will need some kind of medical clearance and perhaps a day's training in such things as operating the suits and evacuating the rocket. The Lynx will have an escape capability but no ejection seats.

While SpaceShipTwo will be flown by a crew of two with passengers in seats behind them, Xcor chief test pilot Rick Searfoss, a former space shuttle commander, emphasized that the passenger on each Lynx flight will ride "in the co-pilot position essentially, with an incredible view the whole time."

A Lynx flight will begin with all four rockets firing to send the craft down the runway, said Searfoss, 51. The Lynx will tilt up in near-vertical flight, with increasing acceleration.

"Toward the end you're feeling close to four Gs of acceleration pushing you back against the seat," he said.

Drawing on his shuttle experience, Searfoss likened the G-force feeling to lying on his living room floor with legs sticking up in the air and "having two big dogs sitting on your chest."

Searfoss said that when the engines shut down three minutes into flight, the passenger will instantly feel weightless as the Lynx coasts to the top of its ballistic trajectory.

While a SpaceShipTwo passenger might unbuckle and float briefly, a Lynx passenger will remain strapped in. But Searfoss said the main enjoyment will be the vantage point - "high enough to look out across the horizon and see that thin blue line of the atmosphere, see the blackness above you even though its broad daylight below."

On the way down, the Lynx will go into a long circling glide, landing 30 minutes after takeoff.

Greason was asked whether a flight to 200,000 feet - about 37 miles - is high enough considering that SpaceShipTwo's predecessor, SpaceShipOne, topped 62 miles in three flights in 2004.

"I think it's more than high enough to offer an experience that's going to leave us with more people lining up to take the ride than we'll at first (be) able to supply," Greason said.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Iran eyes developing national space industry
Iran eyes developing national space industry
VISA reveals main directions of work in Azerbaijan (Exclusive)
VISA reveals main directions of work in Azerbaijan (Exclusive)
Azerbaijani Nakhchivan's revenues from communication services up for 10M2021
Azerbaijani Nakhchivan's revenues from communication services up for 10M2021
Loading Bars
Turkey shares data on vehicles shipments between its Cesme, Greek Chios ports
Weekly review of Azerbaijan's oil & gas sector
Iran's PBO talks reduced inflation rate
Iranian startups to make their first initial public offering - Farabourse
Iran's solar power plants generate half of renewable energies - SATBA
Iran eyes developing national space industry
Azerbaijan once again achieves its goals at meeting in Russia’s Sochi - experts
Uzbekistan shares updated COVID-19 data
New World Order and India
Iranian currency rates for November 27
Azerbaijani oil prices decrease
Azerbaijan sees decrease in number of users per payment terminal in 10M2021
Iran, France to improve economic ties
Turkey reveals volume of vehicles shipments between its Yalova, Italian Bari ports
Georgia-China trade turnover up
Kazakhstan’s Ekibastuz GRES-2 power station opens tender to buy spares for engine
Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna expect data on shot's protection against new COVID-19 variant soon
“Armenian clan” guides European institutions (PHOTO)
Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan sign tripartite MoU on railway cooperation
Turkey bans travel from 5 African countries over new COVID-19 variant
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan sign an agreement worth about $612 million
Kazakhstan has great potential to use high environmental standards in practice - AIFC
South Africa says travel bans over new variant unjustified
US announces travel restrictions over new COVID-19 variant
At least 19 dead, 32 injured after bus crash in Mexico
US company Moderna begins work on vaccine against new SARS-CoV-2 variant ‘Omicron’
Dozens of COVID-19 cases on flight from South Africa, Dutch authorities say
Top Iran diplomat calls for lifting of sanctions, days before Vienna nuclear talks
U.S. President Biden calls for intellectual property protection waivers on COVID-19 vaccines
WTO postpones major meeting over COVID-19 concerns - sources
Trilateral meeting in Sochi can be called historic - Chairman of State Duma Committee
487 illegal immigrants rescued off Tunisian coast: ministry
WHO names new COVID variant Omicron
Sochi meeting is tremendous step in right direction; Armenia must act quickly in order to intercept its abandoned priorities - experts
Turkey to support Qatar's regional and international goals: Shentop
Kazakh President holds talks with President of European Commission
Statement by President of Azerbaijan, PM of Armenia and President of Russia published
Georgia carries out judicial reform with support of U.S., MP Okhanashvili says
Iranian, Malaysian FMs discuss bilateral ties
Foreign Ministry comments on trilateral meeting of leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia
Putin discusses results of meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan with Security Council
Vladimir Putin announces agreement on unblocking transport corridors between Azerbaijan and Armenia
Commission for delimitation of border between Azerbaijan and Armenia to be created
We numerously publicly stated that we are ready to start delimitation process - President Ilham Aliyev
After military hostilities ended, over 100 Armenian servicemen were returned to Armenian side - President Ilham Aliyev
Trilateral working group of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia to hold meeting next week in Moscow - Putin
President Ilham Aliyev ends his working visit to Sochi
Agreement reached on creation of mechanisms for demarcation and delimitation of border between Azerbaijan and Armenia before year end - Putin
Decisions taken at trilateral meeting in Sochi to contribute to safer and more predictable situation in South Caucasus - President Aliyev
Baku holds award ceremony of winners of second day of 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan records growth in remittances to Azerbaijan since early 2021
Russian gymnasts grab gold in synchronized trampoline at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Russian President, Azerbaijani President and Armenian Prime Minister make press statements (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Price indexes of financial, trade sectors at Uzbek stock exchange rise
US gymnasts rank first in synchronized trampoline among men at 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Azerbaijan approves boundaries of protected zone of State Reserve of Shusha city
Russian gymnasts grab gold, silver, bronze in double mini-trampoline among men at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Russian-Turkish ceasefire monitoring center working hard - President Putin
French gymnast grabs gold in tumbling among women at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Best moments of second day of 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan building power unit complex for nuclear plant in Jizzakh region
Body of another Armenian serviceman found on Azerbaijan's liberated lands
Russian gymnast grabs gold in tumbling among men at 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Footage of warm meeting between Azerbaijani, Russian presidents in Sochi (VIDEO)
Portuguese gymnast ranks first in individual trampoline at 28th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Age Group Competitions in Baku (PHOTO)
Russian gymnast ranks first in double mini-trampoline at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Georgia, Serbia working to strike a free trade agreement
Excellent conditions created for Azerbaijani students in Russia - President Ilham Aliyev
Cargo transportation volume between Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan revealed
Volume of freight traffic between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan for 10M2021 revealed
Russian gymnast grabs gold in individual trampoline at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Turkey reveals volume of vehicle shipments between its Mersin, Italian Trieste ports
We characterize our relations with Russia as those of strategic partners - President Ilham Aliyev
Conditions being created for future normal life in region – Russian president
Finalists in synchronized trampoline jumping among women announced at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Azerbaijan was maximally constructive on eliminating consequences of Karabakh war, unblocking communications - President Aliyev
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan sign investment and commercial contracts
Georgia shares its top wine export destinations
Turkey reveals volume of cargo shipment via its ports from Ukraine for 9M2021
Nar upholds positive dynamics in telecom market
Finalists in double mini-trampoline among men unveiled at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Russian president to hold operational meeting with permanent members of Russia's Security Council
Azerbaijan's non-oil export reached highest level since early 2021 - deputy minister
Finalists in tumbling among women unveiled at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Kadimastem seeks Nasdaq listing, raises $3.2m from ILEX
Trilateral meeting between Azerbaijani, Russian presidents, Armenian PM held in Sochi (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan increases its revenues from gas supplies via pipelines in 9M2021
Azerbaijani gymnasts reach finals of 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in synchronized trampoline
Georgia’s exports of copper ores decrease
Putin, Indian PM to discuss privileged strategic partnership on Dec 6 — Kremlin
Azerbaijan reveals current state of road projects implemented in Karabakh, East Zangazur (VIDEO)
Georgia shares data on import, export price indices
Turkey's cargo, passenger traffic at Ankara Esenboga Airport grows in 10M2021
Volume of trade between Azerbaijan and Russia increased - Russian president
Turkey's cargo traffic via Karasu port for 9M2021 disclosed
Finalists in individual trampoline among men and women unveiled at 28th FIG World Age Group Competitions in Baku
Leading Uzbek banks in terms of volume of assets unveiled
Since beginning of operation of Russian peacekeeping forces on 10 November last year, there have been no major incidents in area of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers - President Ilham Aliyev
SOCAR Petroleum commissions gas station in Azerbaijan's Gubadli district
Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan reveals loans issued to individuals, legal entities for 10M2021
All news