Experimental unmanned rockets being developed by California and Texas firms will make multiple test flights to the edge of space under a newly announced NASA funding plan.
The space agency said Monday that Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif., and Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas, have been awarded a total of $475,000 by NASA's Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program.
NASA wants the flights to demonstrate capabilities to carry small payloads to what it terms "near-space" — altitudes between 65,000 feet and 350,000 feet — and to land them safely.
The flights will be launched this year and early next year from Mojave Air & Spaceport in California's high desert and at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Masten last year edged Armadillo in a $1 million contest for flights simulating lunar landings.