Space Florida has agreed to pay Masten Space Systems some $400,000 to perform demonstration flights of Masten’s Xaero reusable suborbital launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 36, Space Florida and Masten announced May 19.

The flights are meant to serve as a pathfinder to assist Space Florida in developing operational requirements for vertical takeoff, vertical landing vehicles such as Xaero; Masten will use the flights to evaluate the Cape’s suitability as a base for the Mojave, Calif.-based company’s flight operations group. Colin Ake, Masten’s director of business development, said the agreement with Space Florida will give Masten the opportunity to experience firsthand the Cape’s Air Force-managed range safety approval process.

“We have to understand the costs,” Ake said. “The way to understand costs with the Air Force is to work with them.”

Ake said Xaero is undergoing tests in Mojave. Masten expects to bring the vehicle to Florida sometime in 2011.