NASA’s Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program (CRuSR) has awarded a total of approximately $475,000 to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif. The awards will allow the two companies to perform test flights of their experimental vehicles near the edge of space.
The dusty desert town of Mojave might not have very much to recommend it, but the town’s spaceport is definitely worth a visit. Some photos I took during the recent Plane Crazy Rockets R Us open house.
Masten Space Systems’ Ken Brown was kind enough to give me a tour of the company’s facility in Mojave on Saturday. Above is the first stage of the company’s Brutus vehicle, which will fly to an altitude of 100,000 feet beginning this Fall.
Fresh off a cash infusion from new partner Space Adventures, Armadillo Aerospace CEO John Carmack spent some time this weekend sniping at rivals during the NSS International Space Development Conference in Chicago. Jeff Foust reports in The Space Review:
Carmack generated a little bit of controversy when he compared Armadilloâ€™s efforts with those by competing suborbital developers. Virgin Galactic, he suggested, would not be able to fly as cheaply as Armadillo; Virgin currently charges $200,000 for a ticket while Space Adventures is asking for about half that, $102,000. â€œI think they have explicitly not chosen the most cost effective solution on this,â€ Carmack said. â€œI donâ€™t think they will be able to compete on price, eventually, but some people will prefer their experience.â€
XCOR CEO Jeff Greason gave two talks on Friday at the ISDC . The first, which dealt with the companyâ€™s business prospects, seems to have been quite upbeat. The other, a luncheon talk about the current debate in Congress over NASAâ€™s human spaceflight plan, was decidedly less so.
On May 26, 2010, Masten Space Systems demonstrated an in-air relight on our VTVL reusable rocket, XA-0.1B (Xombie). This test was a major step towards flying payloads on suborbital flights. The view above is from a camera mounted on one of the landing legs.
XCOR Aerospace and Masten Space Systems, two of the leaders in the New Space sector, have announced a strategic business and technology relationship to pursue jointly the anticipated NASA sponsored unmanned lander projects.
These automated lander programs are expected to serve as robotic test beds on Earth, on the lunar surface, Mars, near Earth objects and other interplanetary locales, helping NASA push the boundaries of technology and opening the solar system for future human exploration.
Today, the X PRIZE Foundation along with NASA hosted an awards ceremony to culminate the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge (NGLLXPC). Masten Space Systems, led by David Masten, was awarded the top $1 million prize, while Armadillo Aerospace, led by id Software founder John Carmack took home the second place prize of $500,000. (more…)
Reports out of Cantil indicate that Unreasonable Rocket has ended its quest to win the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. During a test flight using a crane and tether, Unreasonable’s Silver Ball lander oscillated, broke the tether, and fell back onto the launch pad on its side. A leg punctured the fuel tank, damaging the vehicle and preventing another flight attempt on the last day of the competition.