XCOR Aerospace Lynx

The November issue of Air & Space Smithsonian has my feature story on XCOR Aerospace and its Lynx suborbital spaceship in the making.

I’d been angling for a feature on XCOR, somewhere, for years. The company is one of the unsung success stories of the commercial space race. It’s hard to get a story on them because they lack the flash and celebrity appeal of a SpaceX or Virgin Galactic. But in some ways, the company is even more deserving of attention, for exactly the same reasons.

XCOR was founded in 1999 by a group of four engineers with a dream of reaching space. The dream was pretty much all they had to keep them going early on. But they kept at it, growing the company to around fifty people today. They’ve had to earn every bit of the backing needed to build spaceships by building the technology required, one piece at a time, under contract by various government agencies and prime government contractors.

From the article:

“Greason says that XCOR has worked only on the technologies the company needs to develop for its primary business: creating launch vehicles. When those technologies can be used by a government or private customer, he adds, ‘we work with that organization to solve their problem, but we do it because it’s advancing the work on the tools we need to solve our problem. That’s the way we avoid becoming a we’ll-do-anything-for-a-contract sort of shop.'”

Working for a higher purpose is what we should all be doing, regardless of our professions. It’s perhaps easy to ignore the relevance to our own lives of dreamers like Elon Musk and Richard Branson now that they’ve made their millions and can afford to be out there. It’s much harder to dismiss hard-working individuals demonstrating that sometimes all you need to change the world is a dream and a whole lot of hard work.

Read the story at http://www.airspacemag.com/space-exploration/The-Lynxs-Leap-223968551.html.