This aerial view shows the 15,000-foot long Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. At the north end of the runway, to the bottom, is a rock and crater-filled planetary scape has been built so engineers can test the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology, or ALHAT system on the Project Morpheus lander. Testing will demonstrate ALHAT’s ability to provide required navigation data negotiating the Morpheus lander away from risks during descent.
Checkout of the prototype lander has been ongoing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in preparation for its first free flight. The SLF site will provide the lander with the kind of field necessary for realistic testing. Project Morpheus is one of 20 small projects comprising the Advanced Exploration Systems, or AES, program in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. AES projects 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://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/exploration/morpheus/index.html
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett