Masten Space Systems’ vertical take-off, vertical landing (VTVL) rocket XA-0.1B, also know as the Xombie, has successfully demonstrated multiple sustained free flights.

The flights are part of Masten’s attempt at winning the NASA-funded Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Level 1 competition.

The challenge is to fly two flights between two pads at least 50m apart. The flight time between each pad must be at least 90 seconds.

During the flight tests, the longest flight took place over 93 seconds and involved a flight between two pads 60m apart.

The Xombie rocket is fuelled by a proprietary regeneratively cooled isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen rocket engine designed to provide 750-810lb of thrust.

Inspection of the vehicle after the flight revealed minor damage to the thrust chamber, which prevented further flights that day.

Masten Space propulsion engineer Jonathan Goff said that they had already begun fixing the rocket.

“We should be back in the air in a week or so,” Goff said.

Since May, the vehicle had been flying short test flights tethered to a crane for safety.

The company aims for high-altitude commercial flights beginning in 2010.