Masten is focused on winning the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency XS-1 competition. The XS-1 is an experimental unmanned space plane that can fly ten times in ten days, reaching a speed of Mach 10–plus and lifting payloads greater than three thousand pounds to orbit, at a cost of no more than $5 million per flight. Masten’s direct competition is Boeing/Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman but surprisingly, Masten is closer to this goal than its competitors.
In August it opened an office at Cape Canaveral, the Florida space center that is reinventing itself as a crucial hub for commercial launch companies. There Masten resides in the same strip-mall business park as SpaceX, not far from one of the key gates into Kennedy Space Center.
Still, Masten Space Systems is undermanned and underfunded, a ragtag bunch out in the desert, drilling and hammering and soldering in their small badlands garage down the block from the rich folk.