Xaero B vertical landing rocket demonstrator completed first hot fire tests at Mojave, Calif, on April 9.
From AWST space blog this picture and a short piece on Masten Space Systems Xaero B vertical landing rocket demonstrator
The Xaero is a re-configured, more powerful, higher-altitude version of Masten’s Xombie which has been demonstrating precision flight control and landing. This craft should be capable of 6km hops, an even larger upgrade could do 200 km! They will carry various NASA sponsored payloads.
Xombie has demonstrated cm accuracy at touchdown, there is discussion of doing away with the landing legs and coming down into a landing cradle! That would be a big weight savings. If proven here then it would be viable for all of the V-V (Vertical take off Vertical landing) programs such as Blue Origin, SpaceXs fly back Falcons…
What I find interesting is this progress juxtaposed with a piece regarding the AF reusable Booster program, canceled last year. Of course the demo program was ambitious, leap ahead and risky + expensive. Perhaps it shows that the more incremental commercial approach is superior; more robust, affordable and supportable especially with todays design, analysis and fabrication technology.