XCOR Aerospace Receives Launch License

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On Friday, XCOR Aerospace became the second company to receive a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) mission license from the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The company, based in Mojave, Calif., said it will use the license to test RLV technologies prior to suborbital space travel. XCOR said it will be the first to use the license for an RLV that is launched and recovered from the ground. The FAA's first license, which went to Mojave's Scaled Composites, is being used to test SpaceShipOne, which is carried aloft on the White Knight aircraft and launched at altitude. XCOR's license is for test flights only, and does not cover passenger operations. The company will use the license to test Sphinx, a rocket-powered airplane still in the design stage, according to the Associated Press. The Sphinx is not competing for the X PRIZE, the Associated Press said. Testing will be done at the Mojave Airport. According to XCOR spokesman Randall Clague, "This license covers the full flight test program conducted in a designated test area. A significant feature of the license is that it allows the pilot to do an incremental series of flight tests -- without preplanning each trajectory." XCOR CEO Jeff Greason said, "Our goal is for RLV developers to conduct test flights with the flexibility and ease of development normally associated with experimental aircraft. The terms of this license represent significant progress towards this goal. It is helpful that RLV companies can obtain their launch licenses during vehicle design, prior to committing capital to build a vehicle." The license was issued at the Space Access conference in Phoenix, Ariz.