A Spaceplane Is Born: XCOR Lynx Thrusters!
by bryan campen
MOJAVE, Calif. — The Lynx thruster — the 3N22 — is a non-toxic, high performance bi propellant thruster (“bi propellant” meaning our own blend of gaseous oxygen and a special hydro-carbon fuel mixture) with many attributes that make it perfectly suited to Lynx operations, future use on satellites and human spaceflight vehicles in orbit.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin visits the XCOR hangar and fires the 3N22 thruster
The 3N22 has been fired hundreds of times, and its spark torch igniter (and its predecessor designs) have been tested tens of thousands of times–so many that it is tough to keep count anymore.
Because XCOR uses nontoxic propellants, the thruster can be readily tested inside the XCOR hangar and handled without the need for more traditional and costly pressurized hazmat suits (commonly called SCAPE suits, for “Self Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble”).
Overall savings in recurring and non-recurring costs for XCOR in using the non-toxic 3N22 is estimated to be over several million dollars, and a similar amount on an annual basis. Savings are derived from avoiding the following: costs associated with SCAPE suits, handling of toxic chemicals like hydrazine or nitrogen tetroxide, and the difference in cost savings between the fuel XCOR uses and hydrazine. These savings are passed on to our clients in the form of lower prices and safer flights.
As with the main propulsion systems discussed last week, the 3N22 thrusters are liquid propulsion, or as we like to say “gas and go.” They require no touch labor between flights except for refueling.
There are a total of twelve (12) 3N22 thrusters on the Lynx vehicle. They are mounted in six different locations, and are dual redundant with separate feed systems to ensure we can operate even if we experience an anomalous condition with a thruster or feed system. The thrusters are located on the top side of the Lynx on the nose and the engine cowling (for nose up/down pointing), on the two sides of the nose of the Lynx (for left/right yaw control) and on the two wing strakes (for roll control). You can see their position in the Lynx image (pairs of small black dots) and diagram (wherever RCS is mentioned) shown below.
Tomorrow we’ll hang out in the XCOR rocket engine test bunker.
PUBLISHER’S NOTICE: A sister company to Moonandback Media, LLC, Moonandback Travel Inc., markets the opportunity to participate in Lynx spaceplane flights.