XCOR Aerospace announced a groundbreaking suborbital passenger launch win that will be front and center during the Super Bowl. Unilever Group has signed a deal with Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) to purchase 22 flights on the XCOR Lynx Mark II for its space-themed AXEApollo campaign. The AXE brand includes men's cologne, body spray, shower gels and other personal care products.
Unilever will award the first flight to the winner of a drawing just after the Super Bowl on February 3, with 21 other winners selecting during a year long, 60 country promotional campaign. The larger campaign includes a "100+ person" December 2013 space camp for early stage winners, a 30 second Super Bowl spot and Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
"When a global brand leader like Unilever makes a significant commitment to a product like our Lynx, it is a clear sign that commercial spaceflight has entered the main stream of worldwide commerce and truly is the Next Big Thing," stated Andrew Nelson, COO of XCOR Aerospace. "Expect to keep seeing more good news from SXC as they ramp up in 2013!"
XCOR Aerospace has been a company on the move, recently revealing the creation of a new R&D center in Midland, Texas and operational base at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Lynx II production model is expected to start flight service in 2014. It is a fully reusable two seat winged craft designed for runway takeoffs and landing, with a liquid oxygen/kerosene main engine. The piloted suborbital vehicle has a seat for one passenger and/or room onboard for a variety of research and scientific missions.
XCOR and SXC appear to be gaining mindshare ground on sub-orbital front-runner Virgin Galactic. Encountering development delays over the past couple of years, Virgin's SpaceShip Two is completing its final unpowered drop test series in preparation for powered rocket testing starting sometime in 2013 and leading to commercial tourist flights by 2014. The company says it has reservations for over 550 tickets at a price of $200,000 per seat.
XCOR hasn't announced the total number of tickets it has sold, but the company charges $95,000 per seat. Unilever probably paid a bit less for its block of 20 seats, given its plan to use Lynx in its Super Bowl marketing campaign and for buying in quantity. One of Virgin Galactic's strengths in the suborbital market is the Virgin brand; however, that same strength may also act as a deterrent by companies such as Unilever wanting to promote their brand without being overshadowed by Virgin's.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo