Masten Space Systems

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Masten Space Systems, Inc.
Industry Aerospace and defense
Founded 2004
Headquarters Mojave, California, USA
Key people
Sean Mahoney, CEO
David Masten, CTO and Chairman
Reuben Garcia, Director of Technical Operations
Nathan O'Konek, Director of Business Operations
Products Suborbital spacecraft
Space systems
Throttleable rocket engines
Rocket Propulsion Hardware
Reusable Launch Vehicles
Services Rocket Propulsion Design and Analysis
Space Hardware Test Services
Concept Demonstration
Vertical Landing Software
Number of employees
23 (7/10/2015)
Slogan "We Fly."
XA0.1E "Xoie" rocket on the competition-winning landing in the Lunar Lander Challenge at Mojave on Oct 30, 2009
XA0.1B "Xombie" lander tethered flight test on Sept 11, 2009

Masten Space Systems is an aerospace manufacturer startup company in Mojave, California (formerly Santa Clara, California) that is developing a line of vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) spacecraft, initially for unmanned research sub-orbital spaceflights and eventually intended to support unmanned orbital spaceflight launches.


Masten Space Systems is a Mojave, California based rocket company that is currently developing a line of reusable VTVL spacecraft, and related rocket propulsion hardware.

Masten Space Systems competed in the NASA and Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge X Prize in 2009, winning the level one second prize of $150,000 [1][2] and the level two first prize of $1,000,000.[3][4] On November 2, 2009 it was announced that Masten Space Systems had won first place in the level two category, with Armadillo Aerospace coming in second.[5][6]


Masten's Xombie (model XA-0.1B) won the US$150,000 second prize in the Level One competition of the Lunar Lander Challenge on October 7, 2009 with an average landing accuracy of 16 centimetres (6.3 in).[2]

The primary goal of these two airframes was to demonstrate stable, controlled flight using a GN&C system developed in-house at Masten. XA-0.1B originally featured four engines with 1,000 pounds-force (4 kN) thrust, but was converted in Spring 2009 to be powered by one engine of 750 pounds-force (3 kN) thrust.[7] By October 2009, the regeneratively cooled isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen rocket engine was running at around 900 pounds-force (4 kN).[8]

XA-0.1B - nicknamed "Xombie" - first flew free of tether September 19, 2009 [9] and qualified for the Lunar Lander Challenge Level One second prize of $150,000 on October 7, 2009.[10]


Masten's Xoie (model XA-0.1E) won the US$1,000,000 Level Two prize of the Lunar Lander Challenge on October 30, 2009. They beat Armadillo Aerospace by just a bit more than 24 inches (610 mm) of total landing accuracy, with an average accuracy of about 7.5 inches (190 mm) on the two landings in the round-trip competition flight.[4][11]

Xoie has an aluminum frame and features a version of Masten's 750 pounds-force (3 kN) thrust engine that produces around 1,000 pounds-force (4 kN) of thrust. "Xoie" - as the craft is nicknamed - qualified for the Lunar Lander Challenge level two on October 30, 2009.[12]


The Xaero reusable launch vehicle is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL)[13] unmanned rocket which is being developed by Masten in 2010-2011. It has been submitted to NASA as a potential suborbital vehicle for use as a suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) for carrying research payloads under NASA's Flight Opportunities Program (initially known as the CRuSR - Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research - program), projecting 30 km (19 mi) altitude in initial flights of five to six minutes duration, while carrying a 10 kg (22 lb) research payload.[13] It is propelled by the 1,150 pounds-force (5.1 kN) Cyclops-AL-3 rocket engine burning isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen.[14][15]

The first Xaero test vehicle flew 110 test flights before being destroyed in its 111th flight. During the record-setting[16] flight on 11 Sep 2012, an engine valve stuck open during descent, was sensed by the control system. As designed, the flight termination system was triggered, destroying the vehicle before it could create a range safety problem.[17] The final test flight was intended to test the vehicle at higher wind loads and altitudes, flying to an altitude of one kilometer while testing the flight controls at higher ascent and descent velocities before returning to a precise landing point. The ascent and initial portion of the descent was nominal, prior to the stuck throttle valve which resulted in termination of the flight prior to the planned precision landing.[16]


A follow up to Xaero with the ability to reach 6 km (3.7 mi) altitude with engine on throughout. Xaero-B is between 15 and 16 feet tall where Xaero was 12 feet tall. Xaero-B is proceeding through hot-fire testing.[18] It "will be used for the bulk of research flights up to initial altitudes above 20 km to 30 km".[19]


For other uses, see XEUS (disambiguation).

Xeus (pronounced Zeus) is a vertical-landing, vertical-takeoff lunar lander demonstrator. Xeus consists of a Centaur upper stage (from United Launch Alliance) with RL-10 main engine to which four Katana vertical thrusters have been added. Production Xeus are estimated to be able to land on the Moon with up to 14 tonnes (revised to 10 tonnes) payload when using the expendable version or 5 tonnes payload when using the reusable version.[20]

The damaged Centaur on the demonstrator Xeus limits it to Earth flights. The production versions would have to be manufacturing fault free and certified for space operations. Man rating may also be needed. United Launch Alliance, supplier of the Centaur, refer to Xeus as an abbreviation for eXperimental Enhanced Upper Stage. Further details of the proposed design are given in the paper "Experimental Enhanced Upper Stage (XEUS): An affordable large lander system".[21]

Katana class engines produce up to 4,000 pounds-force (18 kN) of thrust and are regeneratively cooled. They are designed for indefinite runtime and good throttle response. [22] Each of the Katanas used on a Xeus lander are likely to produce 3,500 pounds-force (16 kN) when performing a horizontal touchdown.[23] In December 2012, Masten demonstrated their all-aluminum 2,800 pounds-force (12 kN) regeneratively-cooled engine, the KA6A.[24]

The talk in this video announced the Xeus also shows NASA's Space Exploration Vehicle rover with its 2 astronauts as a possible payload for the XEUS.[20]

On April 30, 2014 NASA announced that Masten Space Systems Inc. was one of the three companies selected for the Lunar CATALYST initiative.[25] NASA signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with Masten in September 2014. The SAA lasts until August 2017, has 22 milestone and calls for "End-to-end demonstration of hardware and software that enables a commercial lander on the Moon".[26]

As of December 2015 United Launch Alliance (ULA) is planning to upgrade the XEUS's main body from a Centaur Upper Stage to the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES) which they are currently developing, significantly increasing the payload.[27]


The XL-1 is a small cargo lunar lander that Masten is also developing as part of the Lunar CATALYST program.[25][28]


Masten has been awarded a US$3 million contract from DARPA to develop the XS-1 experimental spaceplane.[29]

Other products and services[edit]

In addition to its line of vehicles, Masten Space Systems is currently offering its internally developed igniters and engines commercially to interested and qualified parties.[30] Masten also has stated its intent at multiple conferences to participate in technology maturation and proof of concept projects.

See also[edit]

External images
Video of MSS craft
Official MSS Youtube channel


  1. ^ "Masten Space Systems Qualifies for Level One Prize in Lunar Lander Challenge". October 8, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Masten and Armadillo Claim Lunar Lander Prizes". Centennial Challenges: NASA's Prize Program for the "Citizen Inventor". NASA. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2011-03-10. In the Level One competition, Armadillo Aerospace previously claimed the first place prize of $350,000 in 2008. Masten Space Systems qualified for the remaining second place prize on Oct. 7, 2009 with an average landing accuracy of 16 cm. There were no other qualifying Level One flights this year and so the Masten team will receive the second place prize of $150,000. 
  3. ^ "Masten Qualifies for $1 Million Prize". October 30, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Masten and Armadillo Claim Lunar Lander Prizes". Centennial Challenges: NASA's Prize Program for the "Citizen Inventor". NASA. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2011-03-10. With only a few days remaining in the 2009 competition period, Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California successfully met the Level Two requirements for the Centennial Challenges - Lunar Lander Challenge and by posting the best average landing accuracy, won the first place prize of $1,000,000.The flights were conducted with their “Xoie” (XA-0.1E) vehicle on Oct. 30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Armadillo Aerospace, the long-time leader in Lunar Lander Challenge efforts, was the first team to qualify for the Level Two prize with successful flights on Sept. 12 in Caddo Mills, Texas. The average landing accuracy determines which teams will receive first and second place prizes. The average accuracy for Armadillo Aerospace flights was 87 cm. but the Masten team achieved an accuracy of 19 cm, moving them into first place. Armadillo Aerospace will receive the $500,000 second place prize. 
  5. ^ "NASA and X Prize Announce Winners of Lunar Lander Challenge" (Press release). NASA. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  6. ^ "X PRIZE Foundation and NASA Cap Amazing Lunar Lander Competition and Award $2 Million in Prizes" (Press release). X-Prize Foundation. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  7. ^ Goff, Jonathan (April 17, 2009). "Post Space Access Technical Update". 
  8. ^ Mealling, Michael (2009-09-08). "Masten Space Systems Successfully Completes Lunar Lander Challenge". Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  9. ^ Mealling, Michael (September 19, 2009). "First Successful Free Flight". 
  10. ^ "Masten Space Systems Qualifies for Level One Prize in Lunar Lander Challenge". October 8, 2009. 
  11. ^ Paur, Jason (2009-11-04). "Xoie Claims $1 Million Lunar Lander Prize". Wired. Retrieved 2011-03-10. Leaving it to the last minute, the team from Masten Space Systems has made a come-from-behind effort to win the $1 million prize after successfully flying its lunar lander last week. The team flew a new ship, called Xoie, to qualify for level 2 of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. ... more than 1000 pounds of thrust ... managed to make the round trip with an average landing accuracy of about 7.5 inches. 
  12. ^ "Masten Qualifies for $1 Million Prize; Unreasonable Rocket Completes 1st Attempt". October 30, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "Flight Opportunities - Xaero". NASA. 2013-06-10. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  14. ^ "Meet Xaero". 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  15. ^ "Suborbital Firms Have Mixed Results in Tests". Space News. 2011-07-05. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  16. ^ a b Paur, Jason (2012-09-14). "Masten Space Systems Loses Rocket After Record Flight". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  17. ^ Norris, Guy (2012-09-13). "Masten Xaero Destroyed During Test Flight". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Spacevidcast (April 8, 2012). "What if Apollo never happened? Episode 4". YouTube. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  21. ^ Scotkin, J.  ;Masten, D. ; Powers, J. ; O'Konek, N. ; Kutter, B. ; Stopnitzky, B. (March 2–9, 2013). "Experimental Enhanced Upper Stage (XEUS): An affordable large lander system". Aerospace Conference, 2013 IEEE. ISBN 978-1-4673-1812-9. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  22. ^ Colinake (May 21, 2012). "Katana First Fire". Masten Space Systems. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  23. ^ Belfiore, Michale. "Video: moon landers advance at Masten Space". Michale Belfiore. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  24. ^ Lindsay, Clark (2012-12-11). "Masten Space test fires new Katana engine". NewSpace Watch. Retrieved 2012-12-13. (subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ a b "RELEASE 14-126 NASA Selects Partners for U.S. Commercial Lander Capabilities". NASA.GOV website. NASA. April 30, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  26. ^ Masten Space Systems Inc, NASA. "Space Act Agreement between NASA and Masten Space Systems for Lunar CATALYST" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  27. ^ George Sowers (December 15, 2015). "Transportation Architecture for Cislunar Space" (PDF). Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  28. ^ Masten Space Systems. "1st order design model of our XL-1 lunar lander ACS thruster. 3D printed 1:1 scale 15N". Twitter. Retrieved November 20, 2015. 
  29. ^ Masten Space Systems, Inc. award notice, US government document, June 27, 2014.
  30. ^ "Masten Space Systems Products". November 1, 2009. 

External links[edit]