NASA performs free-flight test of Morpheus lander, featuring Aitech and Honeywell technologies

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., 20 Dec. 2013. NASA engineers conducted a free-flight test of the Morpheus prototype lander this week at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Dec 20th, 2013
NASA
NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., 20 Dec. 2013. NASA engineers conducted a free-flight test of the Morpheus prototype lander this week at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 81-second test began at 1:37 p.m. EST on 17 Dec. 2013 at the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility. The Morpheus lander launched from the ground over a flame trench and ascended roughly 164 feet, after pausing briefly at 82 feet. The lander then flew forward, covering approximately 15 feet in 30 seconds before descending and landing on a dedicated landing pad inside the autonomous landing and hazard avoidance technology (ALHAT) hazard field. Morpheus landed within 3.5 inches of its target.

This free-flight test marked the second test of the Morpheus lander; during a similar test in August 2012, the prototype lander burst into flames.

NASA’s Morpheus lander is considered a novel interplanetary vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) spacecraft that employs electronics sourced from several aerospace and defense industry veterans. Aitech, a supplier of rugged computer systems for harsh environments in Chatsworth, Calif., provided the Aitech S950 CompactPCI board with a PowerPC 750 processor that serves as the Morpheus lander’s main computer, able to store up to 16 gigabytes (GB) of data and sporting RS-422, RS-232, Ethernet, and MIL-STD-1553 data buses.

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