Masten Space Systems, one of six NASA-contracted rocket companies, showed off two new rockets this week that can hover, make precision landings, and be used over and over again.
The 15-foot-tall reusable rockets are called Xodiac and XaeroB. Masten’s rockets are suborbital, meaning they can reach space, but can’t get high enough to reach orbit. Xodiac and XaeroB are essentially just more efficient and more reliable versions of Masten’s other rockets Xaero, Xoie, and Xombie.
Masten’s rockets “help you solve challenges that limited access to space imposes,” the company explains on its website. Masten won $1 million in Google’s 2009 Lunar X-Prize, and while it hasn’t put anything in orbit or landed on anything but the Earth just yet, it has the technology to do so.
Relatively small rapidly reusable rockets could be useful in future space missions due to their size, landing precision, and hover capabilities.
“Precision rocket landings offer unique flight test opportunities including descent velocities that are four times faster than helicopter descents,” the company writes on its website.
SpaceX and Blue Origin also have been working on reusable rockets. Masten targets a different market: the precision landing market. Rather than carrying a space hotel up to the International Space Station and then sticking the landing on a barge back on Earth like SpaceX, Masten will be able to hover over (possibly other worldly) surfaces and collect data.
But for now, Masten’s new hovering unmanned rockets are stuck on Earth. If you have a need for Xodiac and XaeroB, though, the company is waiting:
“Drop us a line to start taking advantage of these new vehicles and enhanced capabilities.”