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  • Moon Exploration: A Private View of a Public-Private Partnership

    Paper number



    Mr. David Masten, United States, Masten Space Systems


    Mr. Sean Mahoney, United States, Masten Space Systems


    Mr. Matthew Kuhns, United States, Masten Space Systems


    Mr. Matt Bergman, United States, Masten Space Systems


    Mr. Reuben Garcia, United States, Masten Space Systems


    Mr. Tristan Cembrinski, United States, Masten Space Systems



    In 2018, Masten Space Systems (MSS) was selected for a NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract to deliver science and technology payloads to the lunar surface. Masten began developing rocket-powered lander vehicles from its start in 2004. It’s first two vehicles took prizes, including the coveted first place, in the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, a unique public-private partnership between Northrup Grumman, NASA and the X-Prize Foundation within the NASA Centennial Challenge program.
    Masten continued a partnership with NASA through the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative by utilizing NASA experience and expertise to develop the company’s first lunar lander concept, the XL-1, a small, single-use lander capable of placing a 100-kg payload on the lunar surface. The XL-1 is sized for launch as a secondary or ride-share payload on Falcon 9, Atlas V, or Delta IV launch vehicles. The NASA CATALYST program has also enabled MSS to design and build a variant vehicle, XL-1T, for Earth-bound prototype testing. The design for XL-1 was started first, and once it reached a maturity level that provided confidence in the final system design MSS began development of XL-1T to test key subsystems, components, and tools on a terrestrial-based system. The XL-1T vehicle is currently being fabricated and the design is being finished. Flight testing of XL-1T is scheduled to begin in 2019.
    Masten is instituting an incremental development approach that is based upon evolving the existing MSS lander technology into two families of robotic landers. Masten will build on the capabilities of XL-1 to provide increased landing precision, longer surface life, and larger payloads with the XL-2 and, in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA), MSS is developing XEUS (pronounced Zeus), a vertical-landing, vertical-takeoff lunar lander currently consisting of a ULA Centaur upper stage with an RL-10 main engine to which four vertical thrusters have been added. Production XEUS vehicles are estimated to be able to land on the Moon with up to 10 tonnes payload when using the expendable version or 5 tonnes payload when using the reusable version.
    The MSS partnership with NASA has helped establish the foundation for the company’s lunar vehicle development and over the next 10 years, the CLPS program will pave the way for exploration of the Moon and the solar system beyond. This paper presents MSS lunar vehicles and payload delivery development to date for lunar exploration missions.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-19,A3,2A,7,x54631.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.