Xombie rocket makes first flight

2012-02-16 11:23

Mojave - A privately built rocket has made its first free-flight in the California desert as part of a Nasa programme exploring vertical landing systems for solar system exploration.

The autonomous flight occurred earlier this month at the Mojave Air and Space Port about 150km north of Los Angeles.

Masten Space Systems' unmanned rocket named Xombie lifted off the ground, flew horizontally and landed at a pad 50m away. The demonstration lasted 67 seconds.

In 2009, Masten won a $1m prize in a Nasa-backed simulated lunar landing contest using the Xombie rocket. The space agency awarded Masten and another company, Armadillo Aerospace, $475 000 in 2010 to test vehicles that could carry small payloads to "near-space" - altitudes between 20 000m and 107 000m.

Here's the video on YouTube: