At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a team of engineers and technicians assist as a tether is used to lower the Project Morpheus prototype lander onto a launch platform at the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility. Testing of the prototype lander has been ongoing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in preparation for tethered and free flight testing at Kennedy.
The landing facility will provide the lander with the kind of field necessary for realistic testing, complete with rocks, craters and hazards to avoid. Morpheus utilizes an autonomous landing and hazard avoidance technology, or ALHAT, payload that will allow it to navigate to clear landing sites amidst rocks, craters and other hazards during its descent. Project Morpheus is being managed under the Advanced Exploration Systems, or AES, Division in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The efforts in AES pioneer new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit. For more information on Project Morpheus, visit http://morpheuslander.jsc.nasa.gov. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett