Last week saw the successful test by XCOR Aerospace of their LYNX rocket engine with both propellant and oxidiser being supplied by positive displacement pumps – a claimed first in the industry.
Based in Mojave, California, XCOR is one of a number of small aerospace companies there making innovative steps towards low-cost spaceflight. Last week XCOR successfully tested an engine meant for their LYNX suborbital spacecraft, designed to travel to 100km up to four times per day by using the same craft taking off from the ground, flying to the edge of space and landing instead of a mothership-and-orbiter approach.
XCOR intends to do this by making the rocket engine in LYNX as economical to build, maintain and operate as possible, and part of this is the design of the pumps feeding the propellant and oxidiser into the engine itself. Almost all rockets today use either turbo, or rotary, pumps or feed the oxidiser and fuel into the combustion chamber under pressure from an inert gas supply.
XCOR is banking on being able to dispense with expensive turbopumps and instead replace them with much easier to produce positive displacement pumps operating at high speed, similar in operation to the pistons in your car engine.
Last week saw this approach bear fruit in a spectacular way: a 67-second engine run with the propulsion system mated to the flight weight Lynx fuselage.
You can find out more about XCOR by visiting www.xcor.com .
Image: XCOR XR-5K18 “Lynx” main engine test. Credit: Mike Massee/XCOR