Astrobotic resumes suborbital test flights of assets purchased from Masten bankruptcy

The startup lunar landing company Astrobotic has resumed flights and testing of the suborbital spacecraft built by the company Masten Space Systems and obtained when that company went bankrupt.

Astrobotic announced Oct. 10 that it completed the first campaign of test flights by Xodiac, a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing vehicle, since acquiring it and other Masten Space Systems assets last year. Xodiac conducted four flights from Mojave, California, hovering just off the ground to test plume-surface interactions ahead of future lunar landing missions, supporting research by the University of Central Florida.

Xodiac was built several years ago by Masten Space Systems, based in Mojave, and made more than 150 low-altitude flights for a variety of technology demonstration investigations. However, the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2022 and its assets acquired by Astrobotic that September for $4.5 million.

Xodiac is now part of Astobotic’s Propulsion and Test Department, which includes other assets from Masten Space Systems as well as many of its former employees, who say they have picked up where they left off before the bankruptcy.

Astrobotic has also resumed development work on a larger Masten suborbital spacecraft, Xogdor, also designed to launch and land vertically, but actually reach space.

Because Astrobotic is mostly focused on developing lunar landers, Masten’s technology is perfect for refining that capability for landing on the Moon. It is also ideal should Astrobotic decide to develop a reusable rocket for launch from Earth.