Press Release

XCOR Presents New Platforms For Suborbital Science at AGU

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2014
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XCOR Aerospace® presents new instruments for solar observation and atmospheric phenomena measurement, alongside its full scale Lynx® spacecraft, December 15–19 at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Both instruments – the Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) and KickSat’s sprite, will demonstrate future platforms for commercial suborbital science.


“We’re excited to be able to show the SwRI SSIPP and KickSat sprite to the scientific community for the first time at AGU,” says Khaki Rodway, XCOR’s Director of Payload Sales and Operations. “We hope that by putting these instruments alongside the Lynx full scale model, scientists will be able to see a holistic view of the capabilities for suborbital science.”

The SSIPP will examine solar wave dynamics above the Earth’s atmosphere while onboard the Lynx.

“SSIPP uses a classic, two-stage pointing system similar to larger spacecraft, but in this case the first stage is the Lynx pilot who will initially steer the instrument toward the Sun,” says SwRI Systems Engineer Jed Diller.

Principal investigator Dr Craig DeForest adds: “Using a reusable suborbital commercial spacecraft for the SSIPP development effort improves on a traditional space instrument development process that goes back to the dawn of the space age.”

The KickSat sprite, which is generically known as a chipsat, is only the size of a couple of postage stamps, but has many capabilities of larger spacecraft such as memory, sensors, radio transceiver, and solar cells.


“It is essentially a very small package that becomes a very large, wide aperture sensor,” says Andrew Filo, one of the developers behind the chipsats’ deployer.

Co-inventor Matthew Reyes, adds: “The direct scientific measurement of natural phenomena from outer space has generally been cost-prohibitive for most researchers’ budgets. The availability of new commercial spacecraft and crowdfunding has opened new opportunities for scientists to perform low cost, highly collaborative research.”

Rodway will discuss these instruments, and other Lynx capabilities for suborbital science, in the AGU session Next Generation Instrumentation in Solar and Space Physics: Critical Measurements from Low-Cost Missions/Platforms at 11:50am, December 19 in 2011 Moscone West.

XCOR’s booth (#2723) will be open in the AGU Exhibit Hall Monday, December 15 at 6 pm for the Ice Breaker Reception through to Friday December 19 at 1:30 pm. The first 1000 visitors to XCOR’s Booth will also get an exclusive, limited edition AGU Fall 2014 commemorative pin, and anyone can be entered in a daily drawing to win a Lynx scale model.

Lynx will begin flight test operations in 2015. Following low and high altitude flights, the spacecraft will then commence commercial operations taking customers and experiments on a suborbital mission.

About XCOR Aerospace:  XCOR Aerospace® builds safe, reliable and reusable rocket-powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and rocket piston pumps. XCOR works with aerospace prime contractors and government customers on major propulsion systems, while also building Lynx®.  Lynx is a piloted, two-seat, fully reusable liquid rocket-powered vehicle that takes-off and lands horizontally. The Lynx-family of vehicles serve three primary missions depending on their specific type, including: research and scientific missions, private spaceflight, and micro satellite launch (only on the Lynx Mark III). Lynx production models (designated Lynx Mark II) are designed to be robust, multi-mission (research / scientific or private spaceflight) commercial vehicles capable of flying to 100+ km in altitude up to four times per day. Lynx vehicles are available to customers in the free world on a wet lease basis to start their own manned space flight program. (

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SpaceRef staff editor.