After more than a year’s worth of workforce shrinkage, XCOR Aerospace has laid off the remainder of its employees – putting projects ranging from its Lynx suborbital space plane to its work on rocket propulsion systems into deep limbo.
XCOR is based in Midland, although it also had employees at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
The job cuts began last year when XCOR let go of 25 employees, about 50 percent of its workforce, and decided to focus on propulsion system development rather than the Lynx rocket plane. XCOR extended the layoffs last week.
“Due to adverse financial conditions XCOR had to terminate all employees as of 30 June 2017,” the company said in a statement provided to Parabolic Arc as well as Space News.
XCOR said some employees would be brought back on as contractors to maintain the company’s intellectual property and explore other options to get the company up and running again.
The company set up operations in Texas starting in 2012 to capitalize on $10 million in potential incentives from the Midland Development Corp. The Reporter-Telegram quoted Brent Hilliard, board chairman for the development group, as saying the layoffs and its impact on the incentive deal would be the subject of discussions with XCOR’s executives.
Three of XCOR’s co-founders left the company in 2015 to found a new space venturecalled Agile Aero. The executive who took over as XCOR’s president and CEO, Jay Gibson, left the company last month when the White House nominated him for the post of deputy chief management officer at the Defense Department.
XCOR’s two-seat Lynx rocket plane was once seen as a competitor for Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard in the suborbital spaceflight market.
The company suspended work on the Lynx following last year’s round of job cuts, and concentrated instead on its rocket propulsion work for United Launch Alliance.
XCOR’s hydrogen-fueled 8H21 engine was competing with Blue Origin’s BE-3 engine and Aerojet Rocketdyne’s enhanced RL-10 engine for use on United Launch Alliance’s ACES upper stage, which is destined to be added to ULA’s next-generation Vulcan rocket in the 2020s.