Mojave, California – October 30, 2009 – Masten Space Systems successfully qualified for first place in Level Two of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Wednesday. Flying a brand new vehicle named XA-0.1E (nicknamed Xoie), Masten demonstrated their ability to build, debug and fly a vehicle on a very short timeline.
“To come from not flying at all last year to qualifying for level one AND level two of the LLC this year shows how far our technology has progressed,” Masten Space Systems CEO David Masten said. “After a short vacation we will start modifying Xoie for commercial payloads and begin work on Xoie’s successor.”
Xoie is a larger, lightweight version of Masten’s Level One vehicle Xombie and features an aluminum structure, larger tanks and a more powerful engine. Originally designed for only 750 pounds of thrust, Xoie’s engine produces over 1000 pounds of thrust. “Our engines go to 11! Now we go build the 2500 pound version,” stated MSS propulsion engineer Jonathan Goff. A visibly exhausted but happy Ian Garcia, guidance engineer, said, “We wrote our flight control system from scratch and it just does what I tell it to do! Making it work for supersonic flight is going to be a fun challenge.”
Masten’s qualification flight came at the final Lunar Lander Challenge flight window on Friday morning. During previous windows on Wednesday and Thursday the vehicle experienced communications and plumbing issues. After a small fire on Thursday afternoon the team spent most of the night engineering a solution to a small leak. The solution worked and the team successfully flew the required profile on Friday morning.
“We are now working with interested parties to begin payload integration for low altitude commercial flights in early 2010,” said Michael Mealling, Vice President of Business Development. “If you want to book space on our early commercial flights the time to do that is now. We’re seeing significant interest from research scientists, companies looking to increase their Technology Readiness Levels, and aerospace systems companies building unique quality assurance techniques.” Recently, the Department of Defense awarded Masten Space Systems a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) contract to use its vehicles as a network communications testbed.
“We are building up a good head of steam. Next year is going to be full of bigger, faster, and higher,” said Masten. “Winning contests is fun, but we won’t rest until we’re flying a fleet of vehicles into space carrying all sorts of commercial payloads.”
About Masten Space Systems
Masten Space Systems is a Mojave, CA based aerospace company developing fully reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) launch vehicles, rocket-related products, and engineering services. The company’s 6000 square foot production facility and 200,000 square foot testing facility is located on the Mojave Air and Space Port. The company designs and builds aerospace solutions that focus on durability, long operational lifetimes, and minimal per-flight maintenance. For more information on the company see http://masten-space.com
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