Airgas, the largest US distributor of gases, welding and safety products, and XCOR Aerospace, which develops and produces reusable rocket-powered vehicles and propulsion systems, have jointly announced a 15-year product sales agreement and a sponsorship agreement.
Airgas will provide liquid oxygen, helium, and nitrogen for XCOR’s reusable, non-toxic propulsion systems, including the propulsion system on the XCOR Lynx reusable suborbital spacecraft. Airgas and XCOR will also participate in joint marketing programmes to promote XCOR propulsion systems and suborbital space launch services.
Having developed and flight-demonstrated fully reusable and environmentally sensitive rocket systems, XCOR is now building the Lynx suborbital spacecraft.
The production Lynx will be able to fly safely to altitudes of over 62 miles (100kms) four or more times per day.
Consuming liquid oxygen and helium from Airgas, and a very clean, highly processed special grade of kerosene, XCOR’s engines are among the cleanest high-performance rocket propulsion systems ever designed.
Additionally, Airgas will supply propellants for the unique non-toxic thrusters used for the Lynx reaction control system (RCS) to safely guide the Lynx while in space and then back into the Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry.
“This is an exciting new industry in which we are pleased to be involved,” said Peter McCausland, Airgas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“In addition to working with the great people and technology at XCOR, it is rewarding to participate in an endeavor that inspires our nation’s youth to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.”
“To witness the power of a XCOR rocket engine test or see their vehicles fly, like at the Oshkosh air show in 2008, and to know they are using environmentally safe Airgas products, makes us proud to be a part of the XCOR-Airgas team,” added Tom Thoman, Airgas Senior Vice President – Tonnage and Merchant Gases.
Expanding on the team sentiment, Jeff Greason, XCOR chief executive officer noted, “Having Airgas on board as a national sponsor and gas supplier allows XCOR the peace of mind that we will have a committed partner as our business grows.”
Driving XCOR’s target markets is their ability to provide low-cost, safe, and repetitive daily access to space for small satellite launch to low Earth orbit (LEO) for research and educational missions (REM), as well as for training and personal space flight.
“The Internet and integrated wireless communications devices like the Blackberry or Apple iPhone were ‘the next big thing’ in the 1990s and the first decade of the millennium,” said Andrew Nelson, XCOR Chief Operating Officer.
“Now, new multi-billion dollar space-related markets are being enabled by low-cost and safer access to space, and we need leading and reliable suppliers like Airgas to ensure our success.”