XCOR Lynx suborbital spacecraft nears final assembly

US-based XCOR Aerospace's Lynx suborbital spacecraft is nearing final assembly as shop crews set up to bond the carry-through spar on the rear of the fuselage.

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XCOR Aerospace (Mojave, CA, US) reported on Dec. 18 that its Lynx suborbital spacecraft continues to make rapid progress towards final assembly. Immediately after bonding the cockpit to the fuselage, the shop crews set up for the delicate and precise operation of bonding the carry-through spar on to the rear end of the Lynx fuselage.

"The carry-through spar is the heart of the loading structure on any winged craft – it supports the primary load of the wings and carries that load through the fuselage," says XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. "Attaching the spar on a composite vehicle is a one-way operation, so it has to be done right the first time.

"We're really excited to have achieved this step. It paves the way for the strakes to be attached as the next step. Thanks to the hard work of the composites crew, we're proceeding at a very rapid pace toward first flight."

To correctly locate the spar, the Lynx rocket truss was temporarily removed from its own test stand and placed on the vehicle itself for the first time, an exciting moment in and of itself. After a lot of prep work for both the fuselage and the spar, composites technicians spent several days carefully aligning the spar to ensure perfect symmetry, then began to bond it in place.

"This was our Thanksgiving present," says XCOR composites shop manager Jeff Smith. "We applied the final glue layers on Wednesday just before the holiday, and removed the support equipment over the weekend. We're looking forward to the next big step, integration of the wing strakes onto the Lynx."

After the spar was installed, the entire structure, from front to back, was load-tested to the equivalent of 6G re-entry, while in the test area the cabin was pressurized to 11 psi, the first pressure test after being bonded to the fuselage. 

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