CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space Florida, a state-backed economic development agency focused on space and related technologies, has hired Masten Space Systems for a series of suborbital demonstration flights from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 36.

The $400,000 launch services contract includes multiple flights of Masten’s vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) reusable suborbital vehicle, called Xaero.

The contract is the second for Masten’s suborbital launcher within a week. NASA on May 13 announced it was hiring Masten and Armadillo Aerospace to fly four suborbital science payloads, including a propellant storage and transfer system and a precision landing technology demonstration (Aerospace DAILY, May 18).

The Space Florida contract enables Masten, which is based in Mojave, Calif., an opportunity to get hands-on experience operating at the Cape. “We look forward to successfully completing our demonstration flights and better understanding what is needed for operations in Florida,” company chief David Masten said in a statement.

Space Florida considers the program not just a boon for Masten, but also a way to set guidelines, operating requirements and facilities fees for other new vehicles that may be looking to fly out of Florida.

“These operations are intended to serve [as] a pathfinder to assist Space Florida in developing operational requirements for VTVL vehicles, recommending the optimum operational scenario, and determining the program schedule to achieve launch capability as soon as possible,” Space Florida said in a press release.

The agency also plans to spend an unspecified amount of money to cover range costs and facilities upgrades at Launch Complex 36.