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Xombie rocket tests vertical landing near LA

Xombie rocket test.
Xombie rocket test.
Screenshot via YouTube

The privately built "Xombie" rocket made its first free-flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port about 90 miles north of Los Angeles earlier this month.

The Masten Space Systems rocket is part of a NASA program that's testing vertical landing systems for solar system exploration.

Unmanned, the Xombie rocket lifted off the ground, flew horizontally and landed at a pad 164 feet away. The entire demonstration took 67 seconds.

Masten won a $1 million prize using the Xombie rocket in 2009 as part of a NASA-backed simulated lunar landing contest. In 2010, Masten and Armadillo Aerospace were awarded $475,000 from NASA to test vehicles capable of carrying small payloads to near-space.