Mojave, CA and Curaçao - Space Experience Curaçao (SXC) and XCOR Aerospace, Inc. jointly announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the wet lease of a production version of the Lynx suborbital spacecraft, pending United States government approvals to station the vehicle on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles. With a planned start date in January 2014, SXC will market, and XCOR will operate, suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions out of Space Port Curaçao.
Recently, the Curaçao government and airport authority announced their intentions of investigating and creating the conditions suitable for the formation of a vibrant and active commercial space flight services industry. An investigation of the legal and regulatory framework necessary to enable a robust flight services industry in Curaçao has commenced. investment in the spaceport infrastructure and operator has been committed and made by Curaçao Airport Holding, N.V., the company responsible for overseeing Curaçao airport operator. SXC is the entity chosen by the Curaçao government and airport holding company to create a robust suborbital space flight business focused on research missions, space tourism, and science & technology education. SXC has in turn selected the XCOR Lynx as its vehicle of choice for Curaçao operations.
"SXC has chosen the Lynx due to its innovative but straightforward and robust design, as well as its enormous commercial potential and competitive viability" said Ben Droste, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of SXC. "The combination of the Lynx experience with the beautiful and highly suitable location of the Caribbean Island of Curaçao is a winning experience in our book. Spaceflight participants will not only have the incredible experience of flying in XCOR's Lynx spacecraft beyond Earth's atmosphere, they will have the added benefit of taking off from and returning to one of the world's best vacation destinations."
Space Experience Curaçao, with the strong support of Curaçao Airport Holding, has worked diligently to secure this MOU with XCOR," remarked SXC Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Harry Van Hulten, "With the full support of the government of Curaçao, the Netherlands and thanks to the vision and entrepreneurial spirit of Curaçao Airport Holding, SXC is in the position of making this first concrete step in procuring a Lynx Mark II wet lease contract."
"Building on our international wet-lease agreements model, XCOR is committed to continuing coordination efforts with the US Departments of State, Defense and Commerce and other relevant US agencies regarding export control and operation of suborbital vehicles at non-US locations," said XCOR COO, Andrew Nelson. "We think the wet lease model enables us to address these issues, while allowing us to continue to create new high technology jobs, compete effectively in international markets, and provide our clients like SXC, and their clients, an incredible experience and valuable service - we can't wait to fly from Curaçao!"
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XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket powered vehicles, propulsion systems, advanced non-flammable composites and other enabling technologies. XCOR is working with aerospace prime contractors and government customers on major propulsion systems, and concurrently building the Lynx, a piloted, two seat, fully reusable, liquid rocket powered vehicle that takes off and lands horizontally. The Lynx production models (designated Lynx Mark II) are designed to be robust, multi-commercial mission vehicles capable of flying to 100+ km in altitude up to four times per day and are being offered on a wet lease basis. www.xcor.com.
Space Experience Curaçao (SXC) was founded in 2008 to lead the world changing trend in providing commercial space launch facilities and suborbital flight services from the Caribbean island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles, and soon to be an independent governing entity as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. SXC intends to offer suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions out of Space Port Curaçao. SXC is led by its two founders and Managing Partners, Harry van Hulten and Ben Droste who share a wealth of personal experience in flying and testing fighter aircraft, and managing large and complex aerospace organizations and institutions. Lt. General Ben Droste (retired) has amassed over 4000 hours in high performance jet fighter aircraft including the F-16. His military career culminated in his appointment as Commander in Chief of the Royal Netherlands Air Force where he was heavily engaged in peace keeping and peace enforcing operations around the world including the former Yugoslavia and its many successful missions that helped secure an armistice in the Kosovo war in the spring of 1999. He has been nominated Commander in the Legion of Merit by the United States of America for his leadership in maximizing the ties between the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the United States Air Force in this and the preceding air wars over the Balkans and thereby maximizing the effectiveness of these air forces. Upon retirement in 2000 through 2009, General Droste led the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programs (NIVR), the precursor of today's Netherlands Space Office, and NASA's counterpart in the Netherlands. From 2003-2008, General Droste also became Professor and Dean of the Aerospace Faculty at the prestigious Delft University of Technology. Major Harry van Hulten, is an active F-16 fighter pilot with the Netherlands Royal Air Force; he has over 3200 hours in 42 different aircraft types, of which 2500 hours are on the F-16. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. He spent an extra two years at Edwards AFB to test further innovative developments for the F-16. Harry has been involved in the F-35 program for the Netherlands Air Force, the lead international customer for this fifth generation US fighter aircraft. Harry is also a distinguished former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan veteran. He has a special dispensation to participate as a founding Managing Partner of SXC while performing his military duties