The BlackBolt Space Drone is long range and pilotless version of the Lynx suborbital spacecraft. It can be piloted remotely using artificial intelligence (or human operators) and serves as a space drone. It can also be used to deploy or extract people from hot zones around the world or to conduct scientific experiments.
In 2009, I went to visit SpaceX in California to learn more about their new Falcon and Dragon projects. I am still very interested in spacecraft, and the Dragon is an efficient way to develop/amortize a medium-term space program. The Dream Chaser is another project that appealed to me as it proposes a one-step approach to space. And finally, I like the Lynx for its affordable suborbital capacity. Recently, I got in touch with Jeff Greason, the President of XCOR, to see where the Lynx Spacecraft’s development was, and I ended up thinking about a Space Drone version of the Lynx… Why? Well, it would help increase the Lynx’s customer base (Government and Research) and help amortize its overall development cost.
How it works
First of all, the reason why the BlackBolt looks like a Lynx is because it’s simply a wide body version of it. The current Lynx is a really interesting platform, and it would benefit the project if it could be sold as a tactical or research spacecraft.
The BlackBolt’s dimensions would be slightly larger than existing suborbital spacecraft: 33 feet long and 26 feet wide. Most importantly, its fuselage would be wider to accommodate up to 1000 kg of bio-jet fuel instead of 720 kg (50% increase).
The spacecraft’s body would be made of reinforced composite, and it would use six XR-5K18 Liquid Fueled re-ignitable rocket engines designed to be re-used over 5000 times. With its six engines, it could still reach Mach 3 in less than 3 minutes and fly longer with 50% more fuel to burn.
In Space Drone mode, there would be no window. The cockpit would still be able to accommodate two passengers, or it could be transformed into a cargo bay for equipment or additional fuel. The BlackBolt could also be offered with 45 ft² of panoramic windows just like on the Lynx. Of course, the current shape was not designed to reduce its radar signature but its flying altitude and speed would make it difficult to reach in a short period of time.
What are its uses?
The BlackBolt could be used to conduct the same space tourism mission as the Lynx. These missions could last longer. It could also be used to conduct surveillance operations or tactical missions. Finally, it could be used by the scientific community to conduct experiments at altitudes below 64 miles.
I would like to thank Abhishek Roy, who created the images of the Black Bolt. Abhishek is the founder of Lunatic Koncepts, a start-up design lab based in Mumbai, India. Abhishek’s team also created the renderings for the Alert airship and the Vigilente trike.