FAA Experiment to Fly on Masten Xaero CRuSR Flight

The Xaero vehicle during assembly November 2010. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

From the FAA:

An FAA-sponsored payload (an ADS-B transmitter, loaned to NASA by MITRE Corporation), will fly on NASA-funded CRuSR missions. This payload will be hosted on both the Masten Space Systems Xaero reusable launch vehicle (RLV). This vehicle will operate in Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing (VTVL) mode with minimal lateral translation during flight. A NASA payload that will monitor vibration and other environmental parameters during flight will also fly on this mission. This is the first experimental payload NASA has selected to fly on a commercial RLV as part of their CRuSR Program.

The Masten Space Systems Xaero vehicle will operate from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. It will fly twice to an altitude of up to 17,900 feet above MSL. The Masten Space Systems Xaero CRuSR mission will occur NET mid-July 2011.

Read the full FAA fact sheet below.

FAA Fact Sheet

Within a decade, aircraft and air traffic controllers will use Global Positioning System (GPS) data to determine aircraft position, instead of the system of radars and transponders used now. The FAA’s NextGen air traffic control system will use equipment known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast, or ADS-B, allowing both controllers and pilots to get an accurate picture of air traffic. But ADS-B has the potential to provide data on more than just aircraft. When a rocket is launched today, the airspace system requires considerable advance notice in order to close the airspace affected by the launch and issue notices to pilots. ADS-B could enable a much more seamless integration of air traffic and space launch activities.

These possibilities are being actively investigated by the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation on an experimental basis. An FAA-sponsored payload (an ADS-B transmitter, loaned to NASA by MITRE Corporation), will fly on NASA-funded CRuSR missions. This payload will be hosted on both the Masten Space Systems Xaero reusable launch vehicle (RLV). This vehicle will operate in Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing (VTVL) mode with minimal lateral translation during flight. A NASA payload that will monitor vibration and other environmental parameters during flight will also fly on this mission. This is the first experimental payload NASA has selected to fly on a commercial RLV as part of their CRuSR Program.

The FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center will support this mission by operating their portable ground based ADS-B receiver equipment near the launch site to receive and record the ADS-B messages transmitted by the payload during flight.

This ADS-B transmitter design has flown several times previously. Transmitters were aboard two large amateur rockets that flew to 4,000 and 8,000 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL), on two USAF balloons that flew to over 100,000 feet above MSL, and, after modifications to withstand high acceleration, on a NASA sounding rocket to 76 miles above MSL. The mission with Masten will be the first flight on a commercial launch vehicle.

The Masten Space Systems Xaero vehicle will operate from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. It will fly twice to an altitude of up to 17,900 feet above MSL. The Masten Space Systems Xaero CRuSR mission will occur NET mid-July 2011.