Spaceflight Insider

Masten achieves first hot-fire of Broadsword rocket engine

First Hot-Fire of Broadsword Rocket Engine Photo Credit: Masten Space Systems

Masten Space Systems recently completed a 13-month design, build, and test period of its first development Broadsword 25 rocket engine. The new engine is currently being developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program.

Powered by liquid oxygen and liquid methane, the Broadsword 25 is capable of generating an estimated 25,000 pounds-force (111 kilonewtons) at sea level.

The engine, designed to be a reusable engine suitable for use in boost and upper stage applications, has been in development since August 2015.

Masten employs 3-D printing technologies to produce engines faster while allowing for more complex designs. Manufacturing times are greatly reduced using 3-D printing and the number of parts needed is greatly reduced.

With the ignition and startup goals of the first development unit being met, Masten has already begun the design and build of its second development unit which should result in a main stage hot-fire test.

Continued development of the engine will continue through 2018 collaborating with NASA under the Tipping Point Program. Flight qualification of the new engine should take place sometime afterward.

Company Background

Masten Space Systems was founded in 2004 and develops engines, experimental landers, and automated landing technologies.

With a prime focus being reusability, the company hopes to contribute to the long-range goals of establishing a human presence throughout the Solar System.

Their entry descent and landing technologies (EDL) will allow for precise landings in terrain that was once deemed too risky to land in by greatly improving landing accuracy of the spacecraft.

The company also offers test stands for use including their new 30,000 lbf (133 kN) rated LOX/Methane stand. With their engineering and integration facilities close by to their test operations at Mojave Air & Space Port, they can test their vehicles frequently. Masten vehicles have flown up to six times in a single day.

Video courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory



Lloyd Campbell’s first interest in space began when he was a very young boy in the 1960s with NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. That passion continued in the early 1970s with our continued exploration of our Moon, and was renewed by the Shuttle Program. Having attended the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on its final two missions, STS-131, and STS-133, he began to do more social networking on space and that developed into writing more in-depth articles. Since then he’s attended the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the agency’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test 1, and multiple other uncrewed launches. In addition to writing, Lloyd has also been doing more photography of launches and aviation. He enjoys all aspects of space exploration, both human, and robotic, but his primary passions lie with human exploration and the vehicles, rockets, and other technologies that allow humanity to explore space.

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