Sparrow Project Proposal

What is Sparrows Purpose?

  • Project Sparrow is a developmental test bed vehicle with the intention of developing in house Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) technology. 


  • This is the technology required to successfully achieve retropropulsive landings which has several components:

    • Flight maneuver and landing automation.

    • Thrust must be vectored and throttled to maintain the vehicle's position or vector if moving.

    • Guidance must be able to compensate for small deviations due to environmental and systems response.


Armadillo Aerospace Pixel 

Winner of Level 1 Lunar Lander Challenge in 2006


Masten Space Systems Xoie

Winner of Level 2 Lunar Challenge in 2009

Masten Space Systems further R&D vehicle Xaero-B

(lead to current tech & involvement in CLPS)

How Sparrow will fulfill its purpose

  • Sparrow will be A VTVL test bed vehicle to develop cradle landing technology:

    • Cradle landing is a framework that allows payload attachments to improve flight system capability. 

  • Sparrow will be capable of precision station keeping, vertical takeoff and landing. 

  • The primary objectives of the Sparrow project are to demonstrate:

    • The integrated system performance of the autonomous Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) system,

    • Terrain hazard avoidance sensors,

    • The coupling of the sensors with the GNC (Sensor Fusion)

    • The utilization of an integrated Main/RCS engine liquid oxygen and liquid methane propulsion system


Masten ground crew, interns Ellen Moyer and Wyatt Rehder, prepare Xombie for a flight of Carnegie Mellon University students' sensor package for a future lunar mission


Masten Space Systems' Xombie suborbital rocket controlled by Draper Laboratory's Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment (GENIE) system.

More to come! Critical Design Review Expected December 2020