Rocket-powered landing demonstrator makes successful first flight

Masten Space Systems' Xombie rocket with Draper Laboratory's GENIE flight control system rests on its launch pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

MOJAVE – The first successful free flight of a new rocket-powered vertical landing demonstrator occurred recently at Mojave Air and Space Port. The flight used a new flight control system concept that will enable future demonstrations of landing technologies needed for exploration of planets and moons, as well as near-Earth objects, like asteroids. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program sponsored the flight and control system test.

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie suborbital rocket lifted off the launch pad Feb. 2 while being controlled by Draper Laboratory’s Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment (GENIE) system.

The rocket rose 164 feet, moved laterally 164 feet, and then landed on another pad after a 67-second flight. The flight represents the first step in developing a test bed capability that will allow for landing demonstrations that start at much higher altitudes—several miles above the ground.

“This capability will allow the program to quickly demonstrate landing technologies for future space missions,” said John Kelly, Flight Opportunities Program manager at NASA Dryden. ”

Watch video of the flight below.

(Information via press release from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.)

  1 comment for “Rocket-powered landing demonstrator makes successful first flight

  1. Stinger
    February 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    That is impressive! Reminds me of some of the old science fiction movies where the hero’s rocket would land this way. The real science involved took a lot to actually make it possible. I’m looking forward to more on this in the (hopefully near) future…

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