XCOR Aerospace has announced they have completed the primary supersonic wind tunnel testing of the Lynx suborbital spacecraft. The tests were performed at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) using a precision scale model and demonstrated the integrity of the Lynx aerodynamic shape and provided data to make final refinements to the vehicle.
These new data provide confidence that the Lynx aerodynamic shape will have stable and controllable flight throughout the range of Mach numbers and angles of attack needed for the Lynx mission.
The recent tests add to subsonic wind tunnel testing data obtained by XCOR late last year at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton. As part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), XCOR, NASA and the Air Force will all benefit from the data. The tests are a joint effort between XCOR and the AFRL’s Air Vehicles Directorate.
Lynx is a two-seat, single-stage winged suborbital vehicle that lifts off from a runway powered by non-toxic, reusable rocket engines. The vehicle can carry safely to the edge of space and back a pilot, one spaceflight participant, and engineering and scientific payloads. The Lynx can be flown up to four times a day with minimal touch labor between flights.
“We continue to make excellent progress on the Lynx aerodynamic shape,” said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. “The tests at MSFC gave us live information about the aerodynamic profile of the Lynx in transonic and supersonic flows, which occur during ascent and re-entry. We greatly appreciate the warm welcome and support we received at Marshall.”
The trisonic wind tunnel at MSFC, which also tested the Jupiter C, Saturn family, and Space Shuttle, evaluates the integrity and stability of rockets and launch vehicles with subsonic, transonic, and supersonic wind flows.
“Commercial space companies such as XCOR can benefit from NASA’s extensive facilities and experienced staff, while NASA benefits from the data generated by innovative designs such as the Lynx spacecraft and interaction with the US commercial space industry,” said Jeff Greason.
Andrew Nelson, XCOR COO added, “These tests complete another milestone toward delivering wet-lease Lynx vehicles and provide a great example of how government and commercial space entrepreneurs can work together to invigorate American industry and rebuild the Tier 2 and Tier 3 aerospace supplier base in our country.”