MessageToEagle.com - A new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers is born.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)
are creating these landers to achieve scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon and other
airless celestial bodies, including near-Earth asteroids.
Marshall and APL engineers are currently conducting studies and test activities to aid in the design of this
new generation of multi-use landers for future robotic space exploration.
One of them. for example, is the "Mighty Eagle," a NASA robotic prototype lander. It is soaring high again for a
series of tests being conducted at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Since its last round of tests in 2011, the Mighty Eagle team has made significant updates to the
guidance controls on the lander's camera, furthering its autonomous capabilities.
The three-legged "green" lander is fueled by 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide and receives its commands
from an onboard computer that activates its onboard thrusters to carry it to a controlled landing using
a pre-programmed flight profile.
It is 4 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter and, when fueled, weighs 700 pounds.
In this series of tests, which will continue through September, the lander prototype will autonomously
fly and hover at 30 feet for two tests, and up to 100 feet for another two tests, and then move sideways,
to safely land 30 feet away from the launch pad.
Watch the video of the Mighty Eagle flight on Aug. 8, at the Marshall Center:
'Mighty Eagle' Takes Flight
The "Mighty Eagle," a NASA robotic prototype lander, had a successful first untethered flight Aug. 8 at the Marshall Center.
During the 34-second flight, the "Mighty Eagle" soared and hovered at 30 feet, moved sideways, looked for its target
and safely landed on the launchpad. Credits: NASA/MSFC
The test demonstrates what it will take to perform the final descent of an autonomous controlled
landing on the moon, asteroids or other airless bodies.
"These lander tests provide the data necessary to expand our capabilities to go to other destinations,"
said Dr. Greg Chavers, engineering manager and warm gas test article lead at the Marshall Center.
Click on image to enlarge
'Mighty Eagle' Floats in First Successful Untethered Flight
The "Mighty Eagle," a NASA robotic prototype lander, had a successful first untethered flight Aug. 8
at the Marshall Center. During the 34-second flight, the Mighty Eagle soared and hovered at 30 feet,
moved sideways, looked for its target and safely landed on the launchpad. Image credit: NASA/MSFC)
"It also furthers our knowledge of the engineering components needed for future human and robotic missions."
NASA will use the Mighty Eagle to mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small,
smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals throughout
the solar system.
Click on image to enlarge
Inspecting the 'Mighty Eagle' Lander Prototype
Marshall Center engineers Logan Kennedy, right, and Adam Lacock check out the lander prototype, dubbed the
"Mighty Eagle." Since its last round of tests in 2011, the Mighty Eagle team has made significant updates
to the guidance controls on the lander's camera, furthering its autonomous capabilities. Testing will continue through the month of August.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Fred Deaton
Click on image to enlarge
'Mighty Eagle' Testing Continues at Marshall
The "Mighty Eagle" robotic prototype lander is now being tested near Marshall's historic Saturn-IC Static
and F-1 test stands. The lander is fueled by 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide and receives its commands from
an onboard computer that activates its onboard thrusters to carry it to a controlled landing using a pre-programmed
flight profile. The S-IC static test stand was originally designed to develop and test the Saturn V S-IC first stage,
or booster stage, and was also used for space shuttle external tank testing. The venerable F-1 engine test stand was
used to test turbopumps for Saturn first stage engines. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/Fred Deaton
Directed by NASA's Planetary Science Division, Headquarters Science Mission Directorate (SMD), the lander capability
being developed will pave the way for many exciting robotic scientific missions. NASA's robotic Lander Test Bed
conducts test activities to prove the design of this new generation of robotic landers.
The "Mighty Eagle" prototype lander was developed by the Marshall Center and Johns Hopkins University Applied
Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., for NASA’s Planetary Sciences Division, Headquarters Science Mission Directorate.
Key partners in this project include the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, which includes the Science
Applications International Corporation, Dynetics Corp. and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., all of Huntsville.
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