Press Release

XCOR flights help Mojave log over half of this century’s manned rocket vehicle flights

By SpaceRef Editor
October 8, 2008
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Series of flights this week by XCOR Aerospace Puts Spaceport over the Top Mojave, CA, Oct. 6, 2008 – With a series of flights, XCOR Aerospace has helped establish the small desert town of Mojave as the world capital of manned rocket vehicle flight. When XCOR flew a rocket-powered aircraft eight times this week, Mojave Air and Space Port became the location of more than half of all manned rocket-powered vehicle take-offs and landings in the 21st century. The company also set a new informal record for the most flights of a single manned rocket-powered vehicle in a day, and cemented its lead as the company that has flown more than half of the world’s manned rocket-powered vehicle flights in the 21st century.

“There is only one way XCOR could establish these records–reliability and a dedication to safety,” said XCOR CEO, Jeff Greason. “The firm has logged all these flights and more than 3,500 test fires of various rocket engines without a single lost-time accident due to these operations.”

XCOR flew 7 times on Wednesday, October 1, which not only put Mojave well over the fifty percent mark, it also broke an informal record for the most flights of a single manned rocket-powered vehicle in one day. “One of the keys to safely flying that number of times is our well-rehearsed rapid turnaround process for the aircraft,” said XCOR COO Andrew Nelson. “We have refueled the kerosene, liquid oxygen, and helium pressure tanks in under eight and a half minutes, which is less time than many people spend just filling their car up at the local gas station.”

After XCOR’s flights this week, the Mojave Air and Space Port now accounts for over 59 flights, or 51.3 percent of all manned rocket vehicle flights this century. These flights include rocket-powered aircraft as well as suborbital and fully orbital flights. The Kennedy Spaceflight Center in Florida comes in second with 22 manned flights aboard the Space Shuttle, or 19.5 percent of the total. Russia’s Kazakhstan-located facilities, Baikonur, accounted for 15 launches, or 13.4 percent of the total.

The flights also moved XCOR’s test pilot, former astronaut, and three time Space Shuttle pilot and commander, Col Rick Searfoss (USAF-Ret) up the rankings of manned rocket pilots. His 49 flights with XCOR give him a total of 52 flights, which puts him in seventh place overall, moving him ahead of Astronaut Eugene Cernan, who was the last man to walk on the Moon. He has also passed Chuck Yeager, who achieved fame for breaking the sound barrier, and had a record of 40 manned rocket flights. He has also passed the record of 42 rocket flights set by Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon.

“I’m grateful for the tremendous experiences of test flying both of the rocket-powered vehicles developed by XCOR,” said Col. Searfoss. “Through both of these programs I’ve witnessed firsthand XCOR’s powerful culture of unparalleled technical talent, strong operational expertise, and unwavering commitment to safety. It’s indeed a privilege to be part of a group that epitomizes teamwork.”

“Achieving success with this aircraft has given all of us at XCOR a great deal of satisfaction,” said Greason. “We have already begun work on our third generation rocket propelled vehicle, the two-seat suborbital launcher called the Lynx. Powered by XCOR’s safe, reliable and affordable rocket engines, it should make its first flight in 2010, and show, yet again, that at XCOR, technology takes wing.”

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 and propulsion systems that enable affordable access to space.

Mojave Air and Space Port is the leading aerospace test center for commercial operations in North America. In the past five years, it has amassed more first flights and significant newsworthy flights than any other airport in the world. The Air and Space Port is home to more than 40 companies involved in aerospace, renewable energy, and heavy rail manufacturing.

SpaceRef staff editor.