I had a very interesting Thanksgiving break. During the first couple of days I was contacted via email about a possible internship at XCOR Aerospace. I called the next day and learned about what it involves. It sounds...
XCOR is based in Mojave, California. Mojave is a small town of maybe three or four thousand people, and whose industry is almost entirely based around aerospace. The life of the town is the Mojave Air and Space Port, the first inland spaceport in the United States. Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites once said, "Innovation is what we do here, because there's not much else to do in Mojave." Mojave is also the future home town of Captain Christopher Pike, for all you Star Trek geeks out there.
XCOR Aerospace was founded in 1999 by former members of the Rotary Rocket company. Their main focus is on building Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV's). Current projects are:
- Lynx is their big project. It's a HTHL suborbital rocket plane that's designed to take one pilot and one passenger and/or payload into the edge of space. I've actually posted about the Lynx before. It is still in the development stages, and looks to enter flight service in the beginning of 2014. In the future they plan to develop a more advanced version with an external dorsal pod for experimental payloads requiring exposure to space, or for launching mini satellites into orbit.
- EZ-Rocket: This rocket plane is basically an R&D testbed for their rocket engines and other stuff.
- X-Racer: This is a plane much like the EZ-Rocket, but designed specifically for the Rocket Racing League. The vehicle they have now is a prototype. It has flown for many demonstrations, including Oshkosh AirVenture 2008. It holds several records for rocket powered aircraft, such as the most flights of a single rocket power aircraft, the fastest turnaround time for a rocket powered aircraft, and some other stuff. They continually conduct new flight tests on the vehicle, often with new test engineers in the designated right seat. From my conversation with Aleta Jackson, it sounds like they like to send up their engineers, including interns (!), because they don't want people designing stuff they wouldn't fly themselves.