Motorcycle gets spacecraft propulsion parts

Spacecraft manufacturer XCOR comes up with an unusual two-wheeled way to test some critical bearing components from its rocket propellant piston pump.

XCOR modified Triumph
This isn't a normal motorcycle. XCOR

Testing spacecraft components is no cake walk. It's expensive and can require subjecting them to tremendous amounts of stress and wear and tear, but it's necessary. You can't just blast them up into suborbit and hope they work.

XCOR Lynx spacecraft
This rendering shows the Lynx. (Click to enlarge.) XCOR

Spacecraft manufacturer XCOR decided to get a little more grounded when it came to testing out components of its new piston pump technology destined for the Lynx Suborbital Spacecraft.

XCOR modified a Triumph motorcycle with propulsion parts and sent it off on a massive road trip from Roswell, N.M., to Mojave, Calif.

The main purpose of the motorbike adventure was to monitor wear and tear of critical bearing components of the rocket propellant piston pump.

"This particular motorcycle, the Triumph Street Triple, develops about the same horsepower and has the same cylinder arrangement as the liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel pumps for the Lynx suborbital spacecraft," XCOR chief engineer Dan DeLong said in a statement about the test.

The 20-hour trip gave XCOR engineers enough data to replicate 400 Lynx flights. The piloted two-seat Lynx will eventually carry people on a half-hour suborbital flight. Good news for eventual XCOR space passengers: the components performed flawlessly.

If you're ready to sign on with XCOR, you can go ahead and reserve a $95,000 suborbital flight ticket. If that's too much, perhaps you can inquire if the motorcycle is available to rent.

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