25 July 2009
News - Vehicles (Good)
XCOR’s Tests Aerodynamics Design of Lynx
Making sure the Lynx is sleek
by G B Leatherwood
Years ago actors Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland popularized a now-famous show business cliché: “Let’s fix up the old barn and put on a show!”

Well, Jeff Greason, CEO of XCOR, isn’t Mickey Rooney, and the U.S. Air Force test facility at Wright-Patterson Air Base near Dayton, Ohio, isn’t exactly an old barn, but the enthusiasm is the same.

According to a press release, XCOR has finished a series of wind tunnel tests of the aerodynamic design of their Lynx suborbital launch vehicle.

Regarding the use of wind tunnel testing, pioneered by the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Greason said, “Computational Fluid Dynamics and other computer design tools are very useful, but you have to build real models and let real air flow around them to get real results.”

The U.S. Air Force opened the doors to their Dayton facility because the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) allows partnerships to be formed between the U.S. Air Force and private sector companies.

The benefit to the U.S. Air Force, explained Barry Hellman, an aerospace engineer at the Air Vehicles Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is “…to work together to develop the aerodynamics of the Lynx which will provide valuable knowledge to help the Air Force develop future access to space systems.”

In return for the subsonic wind tunnel testing, Greason said that the AFRL will be able to obtain the data generated from the process.

XCOR’s Lynx is a second-generation vehicle developed to travel at both supersonic and subsonic speeds. Lynx is supposed to pave the way toward fully reusable, liquid fueled rockets capable of making several flights per day to the upper limits of the atmosphere and beyond. XCOR has already produced a variety of reliable rocket engines, notably the engines that will power the Rocket Racing Leagueships in the near future.

According to XCOR, “As of early September 2008, our team has accumulated 3,577 starts and 451 minutes of run time on our engines, developed low cost pumps from concept through operation, and flown a piloted rocket operations demonstrator aircraft safely over 50 times, including demonstrating their reusable engines through intact abort, multiple flights per day, and in-flight restarts.”

Greason said, “We are making concrete progress in turning our dream of affordable space access into reality for the participants who have already bought tickets and all or our future clients.”

And that reality promises to be one heck of a show.

For complete information about XCOR, its products, and its testing and production programs, go to the XCOR site.
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G B Leatherwood 25 July 2009
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