The PJ Tatler

Science in Commercial Space

This morning, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced that they would be buying six suborbital space flights on XCOR;s Lynx spacecraft.

February 24th, 2011, Mojave, CA, USA: In a first for the reusable suborbital launch vehicle industry, XCOR Aerospace announced today that the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), a commercial entity, has purchased six suborbital flights to carry SwRI experiments as pathfinder missions for other SwRI suborbital clients.  This is the first such contract SwRI has issued, and XCOR is proud to be chosen for this opportunity.

“When someone issues a commercial contract with their own money, this means something,” said XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson. “XCOR feels SwRI signing their first contract with us demonstrates the superiority of the Lynx platform over others in the field.  We have the ability to fly up to four times a day, quickly perform an experiment and then return it to the customer.  In addition, we offer the best price in class versus the competition.”

Each of the six flights will include a SwRI trained principal investigator / payload specialist.  This group of talented individuals includes Dr. Alan Stern, former NASA Associate Administrator for Science, Dr. Dan Durda, who has campaigned in F-18s and Dr. Cathy Olkin, an experienced SwRI researcher. On these flights, the SwRI principal investigators will perform research using biomedical, microgravity, and astronomy imaging experiments conceived and prepared for flight at SwRI. SwRI has an option to purchase three additional flights at any time, providing more value for the money spent and greater flexibility for experimental research.

“These are exciting times for the suborbital research field,” said Dr. Stern. “XCOR and SwRI are blazing new trails with this engagement and setting the stage for others to follow with their experiments.”

Dan Durda is a friend of mine.  The rat.