At Space Access yesterday Dave Masten of Masten Space Systems provided a brief update on his company’s vehicle development efforts. He noted that when they decided not to participate in the Lunar Lander Challenge last fall, they thought they were two weeks away from flight. “We are still two weeks away from flight,” he said, having run into a number of technical problems in the intervening months. “But we think we’re really there this time.” Those flight tests will be of its initial small-scale prototype, the XA-0.1; once those begin they’ll start work on the larger XA-0.2, the vehicle they’re developing for this year’s Lunar Lander Challenge, unless other works keeps them from participating. “We’re going to try and fly in the Lunar Lander Challenge. There is a hope that we won’t because we’re too busy with other stuff, with other contracts.” Masten said their appearance at last year’s X Prize Cup, where they test-fired an engine, attracted the attention of some people who have asked them to perform some R&D work.
Incidentally, today’s Los Angeles Times has an article about Norton Sales Inc., the North Hollywood junkyard that has a huge amount of used aerospace parts, from valves to rocket engines. Featured in the article are Dave Masten and Jon Goff of Masten Space, visiting the warehouse to look for parts. “It’s dangerous coming to a place like this,” said Masten. “It’s like shopping on an empty stomach.” Other Norton Sales customers include Orion Propulsion, Scaled Composites, and SpaceX.