Los Angeles (CA) - XCOR, a small aerospace company based in Mojave, Calif., today unveiled plans to launch itself into the era of space tourism with a two-seat suborbital spacecraft. "Lynx" could be operable within two years and give people an "affordable" view on the Earth's atmosphere below.
Lynx follows a slightly different idea than what we have heard so far about possible tourism rockets. Instead of carrying passengers "in the back like cargo", Lynx is a two-seater plane with a size of a small private airplane. XCOR believes that it could be fully operable by 2010 and offer an "affordable way" to transport passengers into space "several times a day".
According to the company, the spacecraft is expected to hit a speed of Mach 2 during its ascent to 138,000 feet, which will be reached after three minutes of flight time. One and half minutes later, Lynx will have reached its peak at 200,000 feet (62 km). After 30 minutes of total estimated flight time, the spacecraft will touch ground again.
"Lynx will be the 'Greatest ride off Earth,'" said XCOR test pilot, former pilot astronaut and Space Shuttle commander, Rick Searfoss. "The acceleration, the weightlessness, and the view will provide you with an experience that is out of this world. And the best part of it all is that you'll ride right up front, like a co-pilot, instead of in back, like cargo."
XCOR was founded in 1999 and currently employs about 30 people. Over the past years, the company developed and demonstrated the first privately built liquid-fueled rocket propulsion system on its EZ-Rocket aircraft.