XCOR’s Lynx engine design has breakthrough
XCOR announced a major breakthrough today, Dec. 14, with their 5K18 engine, the main propulsion unit for the company’s Lynx reusable suborbital rocket plane. Engineers at XCOR were able to ‘close the loop’ in terms of the 5K18 Lynx main propulsion rocket engine. Specifically, engineers with the firm have helped validate the 5K18’s thermodynamic system under test conditions, a key technology for the Lynx sub-orbital vehicle.
XCOR has created a new way to drive engine parts using the waste heat of the propulsion system. This means that the Lynx will not require heavy gas pressure tanks to perform those tasks. With the new method, the Lynx should have a reduced service time more in line with the ‘Gas and Go’ concept that XCOR has been developing.
“This technology includes a novel method to drive essential engine parts using waste heat from the rocket engine, thus eliminating the need for adding large, heavy compressed gas tanks to the vehicle,” said XCOR’s Director of Engineering and acting CTO Michael Valant.
With this system, a Lynx rocket could be launched and serviced multiple times per day. For some payloads that need multiple flights, this could serve as a big boost. If a data set from an experiment shows promise, the payload could then be modified in real time and flown again on the same day. For some suborbital research, this could serve as “the holy grail”. XCOR believes that this technology could be used to benefit other rocket-propulsion-based vehicles as well.
Valant continued, “There’s still some work to do to improve the cycle efficiency before this engine – that in its basic ‘open cycle’ form has already had hundreds of successful test firings – is ready for flight, but this is a massive step forward for us in the development of this truly groundbreaking technology. I’m genuinely proud of my teams for working so painstakingly to reach this goal.”
According to the XCOR news release, Michael Valant is the newly-appointed acting CTO. He has 20 years of experience in rocket propulsion system design and development. Since 2006, he has worked at XCOR to design and develop various propellant systems and components, to include rocket engines, valves, and pumps for kerosene and liquid oxygen. Most of his work is for the design requirements of the XCOR Lynx’s main propulsion system.
Joe Latrell is a life-long avid space enthusiast having created his own rocket company in Roswell, NM in addition to other consumer space endeavors. He continues to design, build and launch his own rockets and has a passion to see the next generation excited about the opportunities of space exploration. Joe lends his experiences from the corporate and small business arenas to organizations such as Teachers In Space, Inc. He is also actively engaged in his church investing his many skills to assist this and other non-profit endeavors.