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Watch two new mini-rockets launch and hover in the air

Aerospace startup Masten Space Systems just introduced two new additions to the company’s long line of reusable rockets and landers. The vehicles are called Xaero-B and Xodiac, continuing the company’s tradition of assigning X-names to its products. A new video of the rockets shows how the two prototypes can launch from the ground and then hover in place — a feat known as “station keeping.” The craft can also lower down and gently land upright on the ground to be used for future flights; it’s similar to how SpaceX and Blue Origin’s vehicles land, but on a much, much smaller scale.

The vehicles can land vertically on very precise targets

Based out of Mojave, California, Masten Space Systems has made a name for itself making small rocket-powered landers that can take off and land vertically. The vehicles are also known for landing on very precise targets. Because of this, one of Masten’s landers won a $1 million NASA-sponsored competition in 2009 for its potential as a lunar lander. None of the company’s rockets have gone to space just yet, but Masten was just recently given $3 million by DARPA to develop a reusable spaceplane that can launch satellites into orbit.

In the meantime, Masten will continue to test out rocket-powered take-offs and landings with the Xaero-B and Xodiac. The company claims the Xaero-B can fly up to altitudes around 3.7 miles high. Masten will offer up the two prototypes to companies looking to test out potential space technologies on rocket-powered vehicles. These types of landers offer up a unique testing environment for companies, since they can descend very rapidly from high altitudes, unlike helicopters.


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