NASA Selects Two Firms for Experimental Space Vehicle Test Flights

WASHINGTON -- 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 flights will demonstrate the capabilities of new vehicles to
provide recoverable launch and testing of small payloads going to
"near-space," the region of Earth's atmosphere between 65,000 and
350,000 feet. The CRuSR program fosters the development of commercial
reusable transportation to near space. The overall goal of the
program is regular, frequent and predictable access to near-space at
a reasonable cost with easy recovery of intact payloads.

"These two awards are just the beginning of an innovative teaming
relationship with industry to provide affordable access to the edge
of space while evaluating the microgravity environment for future
science and technology experiments," said NASA Chief Technologist
Bobby Braun at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "CRuSR represents the
sort of government-commercial partnership that will facilitate
near-space access at affordable costs."

The CRuSR awards will fund two flights this fall and one this winter
of Armadillo's Super-Mod vehicle from Spaceport America in New
Mexico. The first two flights will be to an altitude of approximately
nine miles and the third to approximately 25 miles.

The Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle will make four flights this
winter from the Mojave Spaceport in California. Two flights will
reach an altitude of approximately three miles and two others will be
to approximately 18 miles, with an engine shutdown during flight.

Both launch vehicles will be modified to mount three antennas for the
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payload.
ADS-B-equipped vehicles can determine their position using global
navigation satellite systems. The vehicles can periodically broadcast
position data and other relevant information to ground stations and
other similarly equipped aircraft.

In NASA's fiscal 2011 Space Technology Program, CRuSR will become an
integral part of the Flight Opportunities Program within the Office
of the Chief Technologist.

For more information on NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, vist:


For more information about NASA's CRuSR program, visit:


For more information about NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, visit:


Source: NASA

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