July 24, 2009, Dayton, OH: XCOR Aerospace, Inc., announced today that it has finished a series of wind tunnel tests of the aerodynamic design of its Lynx suborbital launch vehicle. The tests took place at the U.S. Air Force test facility located at Wright-Patterson Air Base near Dayton, OH, using an all-metal 1/16th scale model of the Lynx.
"Ever since the Wright Brothers pioneered wind tunnel testing here in Dayton, aerospace engineers have used it as a tool to improve aerodynamic design," said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. "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. We are grateful that the U.S. Air Force made this facility available to do our first subsonic wind tunnel testing under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)."
"The CRADA allows us to form productive partnerships between the U.S. Air Force and private sector companies," says Barry Hellman, an aerospace engineer at the Air Vehicles Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright Patterson AFB. "We will 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."
Greason said that in return for the subsonic wind tunnel testing, the AFRL will get access to the data derived from the process. XCOR has already won several contracts with the AFRL, including a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research contract to supply operational data from the Lynx which will help in the development of operationally responsive space craft. The Lynx, which is designed to safely fly to the edge of space and back multiple times a day, is expected to make its first flight in 2010.
Greason said that the XCOR team has taken the model and data back to their Mojave, California base to analyze the results. Because the Lynx is designed to travel at supersonic as well as subsonic speeds, refined models of the vehicle will be built and tested in a supersonic wind tunnel later this year.
"We are at a very exciting point in the Lynx program," he said. "While we are refining the aerodynamic design, we are making progress in fabricating the Lynx's crew cabin, testing cryogenic pumps that will be used in the propulsion system, and continuing the test program of the liquid fuel rocket engines that will propel the Lynx to the edge of space. 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 of our future clients."
XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies. Its web address is: www.xcor.com. Advanced ticket sales have already commenced at www.rocketshiptours.com.
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