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Tue, Apr 01, 2008

NASA Buys Out XCOR Aerospace

'We Haven't Had 'Cool' For Quite Some Time'

ANN APRIL 1st "SPECIAL" EDITION: Engineers at NASA tell ANN they can't wait to get their hands on blueprints for XCOR Aerospace's recently-unveiled Lynx sub-orbital spaceship... now that the space agency has purchased the emerging commercial space travel provider.

Terms of the purchase agreement, announced Monday, were not disclosed... but NASA Administrator Michael Griffin made it clear why the agency wanted the company.

"When I first saw the drawings of the Lynx, I immediately thought "wow! Cool!" Griffin said. "We haven't had 'cool' at NASA for quite some time now. The closest thing we have is probably the space shuttle, which looks like a brick house but not in a good way."

In particular, NASA hopes to utilize Lynx's self-launching capabilities, which will allow the light space vehicles to take off like conventional, albeit rocket-powered, aircraft, then climb skyward. Following approximately five minutes in weightlessness, Lynx will glide down to Earth, and land in a similar manner to NASA's space shuttle.

Under NASA's direction, the small, two-person Lynx is slated to enter service in 2010, and will serve as a 'bridge' design between the shuttle fleet, scheduled for retirement in September of that year, and the agency's upcoming Orion orbital capsule. Future design variants may include the ability to dock at the International Space Station, to serve as crew and cargo transfer vehicles.

A handful of Lynx space vehicles will also be employed for commercial space travel missions, Griffin said.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/lynx

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