be quite short. So we devised a series of design
changes that accommodate thermal expansions
and contractions. Since we got the design the way
we wanted it, we’ve never worn one out.”
Thus far, Xcor has received relatively little public
attention. The company made a tactical decision
not to go all-out to win the $10 million X Prize for
private manned spaceflight that was claimed by
Rutan’s SpaceShipOne. “We decided we could do it
right, or do it soon,” he says, “but not both.”
Some people have compared the X Prize to the
Apollo program, describing both as “stunts” —
one-goal endeavors with no commercial followup.
Greason is too diplomatic to make such a comparison, but he’s very clear about his goals.
“I am not interested in stunts,” Greason says,
quite firmly. “I’m interested in markets.”
Special thanks to Robin Snelson for help in
researching this article.
Fig. M: Gerry Mulryan, master mechanic at Xcor
Aerospace, stands beside one of the tools of his
trade. Fig. N: At Masten Space Systems, a rocket
motor is mounted on a trailer, ready to be towed out
to one of the test pads near the perimeter of the
Mojave Air and Space Port. Fig. O: An older family
photo of Tim Pickens and his daughter, Sarah (now
18), with rocket-powered bicycles that Tim designed
and built. (Hers was powered by safe compressed
carbon dioxide.) Fig. P: A PowerPoint slide from
Pickens, showing his rocket-powered pickup truck.
More on private space flight and manufacturing:
Rocket Sellers blog:
Space Studies Institute:
Masten Space Systems:
Charles Platt is a contributing editor to MAKE.