Masten Space System’s Xaero test rocket exploded during a test flight here at Mojave Air and Space Port. The vehicle was destroyed during the explosion.
The VTOL vehicle launched at about 10:30 a.m and reached an altitude of 3,280 feet . The vehicle started descending with rocket power but something went wrong and it started oscillating.
The vehicle’ computers attempted to steady the rocket, but itw as no use. The rockets liquid oxygen engine shut off and the 967 pound rocket fell to the ground and exploded in a massive fire ball. Luckily no one was hurt.
“The initial cause appears to be a throttle valve failure,” Masten said. ”The most important thing is that our team is safe and with the data from this test, we expect to be flying again soon!”
Masten’s Xaero is one of several small reusable launch systems being developed to carry small experiments and technology payloads on brief sub-orbital space flights under NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, which is managed at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards. Under a $250,000 NASA contract, Masten is required to perform four demonstration flights of its vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing spacecraft, two to about 16,000 feet altitude and two to almost 100,000 feet altitude.