GLASGOW PRESTWICK TAKES A STEP CLOSER TO LAUNCHING CREWED SPACE FLIGHTS

A concept drawing of the Lynx spaceship. Credit: XCOR

A concept drawing of the Lynx spaceship. Credit: XCOR

US crewed space launch vehicle designer XCOR Aerospace has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with spaceplane design and operating company Orbital Access Limited and Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport. This partnership is supported by Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s economic development agency.

The MoU paves the way for the establishment of crewed launch services at Prestwick using XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft with support from existing Scottish aerospace organizations.

XCOR would also collaborate to establish new industrial and support activities at Prestwick, and within the wider Scottish space and aerospace sector.
The space launch service would be run by Orbital Access Limited as the first of a network of similar services at emerging horizontal launch spaceports worldwide.

Announcing the strategic collaboration at Farnborough International Airshow, Orbital Access CEO Stuart McIntyre set out the vision for a global launch service using the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, working alongside the unique aerospace industrial capabilities found in the Scottish aerospace sector.

“The Lynx represents a highly versatile manned spacecraft to service space research missions in zero gravity, and provide academics and industry with a unique and responsive research environment. It can also support leisure sub-orbital flights,” McIntyre said. “This will complement our satellite launch systems, which are in development, and complete the suite of launch services Orbital Access will be offering at spaceports globally.”

“Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport is fortunate enough to already have the UK’s only space launch company, Orbital Access Limited, based right on its doorstep. Signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Orbital Access and XCOR is a further step forward in our work to make space launches from our site a reality,” said Mike Stewart, Business Development Director at Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport. “We already have the vast majority of the infrastructure in place and with as little as £1million investment we could be up and running. Having a pipeline of partners, customers and suppliers in place will be hugely helpful in pulling together the business case for the investment required to get up and running.

“The progress that we are making now that the UK Government has decided to make this a licensing regime rather than a bidding process demonstrates that this was the right decision for the industry and the UK economy. This has allowed the market to accelerate the process and decide where it feels that launches can be best delivered. We are delighted that Orbital Access and XCOR have decided that the best place for them is Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport and that they are establishing operational bases onsite,” Stewart said.

Jay Gibson CEO President of XCOR added, “Strategic aerospace industrial partnerships and strong routes to market characterise our approach to bringing this ground breaking system to fruition. Our unique reusable rocket motor technology is at the core of the Lynx and we are looking forward to working with partners in the Scottish aerospace and space sector.”

The MoU sets out an action plan for defining operations at Prestwick and establishing a global operational deployment model for Orbital Access Limited.

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