Friday, March 7, 2008

Masten Space Tests New Igniter Design

Masten Space has created a few interesting bits of news in the past months, including the complete destruction of their first prototype XA 0.1 engine in December. You can find a great picture of the destruction on their website. This piece of news is relatively minor, but it gives me an excuse to do a profile on the company.

Masten Space is based in Mojave, California, and is currently in the design and construction phases of the first of their many planned spacecraft, the XA 1.0. The various design phases are named 0.1, 0.2, etc., much like designations of early software releases. Their plans are as follows:

XA 1.0, 1.5, 2.0
Suborbital reusable vertical takeoff and landing spacecraft of increasing capacities. Launching items on one of these rockets is expected to cost about $300/kg, and it is anticipated that a single one of these rockets will be able to be launched several times per day. The XA 2.0 would be capable of carrying approximately five people, and is therefore the first of their craft that can service the space tourism market.

B 1.0, 2.0
These will be booster units based on XA 2.0 technology, capable of acting as a first stage for a larger payload, and then land once more so that it can be reused.

O 1.0, 2.0
These will be orbital spacecraft. Specifically, they will be the second stage of a B/O combination craft. These will also be able to re-enter the atmosphere and land so that they can be reused.

XL 1.0, 2.0
At this point in Masten Space's plans, vertical takeoff and landing technology will be mature enough so that it can me used on other worlds. XL stands for eXtraterrestrial Landers, and these will be used in places like the Moon and Mars.

The xT vehicles will be pure extraorbital transfer vehicles based on the O 1.0 and 2.0 technologies.

Payload slots on their first successful spacecraft are already available for purchase, starting at $99 for a 350g payload, all the way up to $1250 for a 5 kg payload.

After the destruction of XA 0.1 last month, Masten has decided to scrap plans for further 0.1 development and to start building XA 0.2! Masten gives out a lot of details of current development process on their website, so I encourage you to read it! As for their current news, they have completed the design of a new igniter with a liquid oxygen tank for the XA 0.2. I have no idea what that means, so if you're interested, you can read up on it in their news section. Also, they're hiring two new interns! So if you're qualified to become a rocket-scientist-in-training, you might want to check them out.

Progress: 3.74%  Flight Time: 0:05:36

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