At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians and engineers assist as the Project Morpheus prototype lander is attached to a tether and lowered onto a transportable launch platform positioned at the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility. The lander will be prepared for a tethered test that includes lifting it 20 feet by crane, ascending another 10 feet, maneuvering backwards 10 feet, and then flying forward and descending to its original position, landing at the end of the tether. Testing of the prototype lander was performed 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