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.)