NASA

April 5, 2013

Highest, longest flight to date for Masten’s Xombie with Genie payload

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie technology demonstration rocket soars aloft, guided by Draper Lab’s GENIE navigation and control system designed to land space vehicles on other bodies in the solar system.

MOJAVE, Calif. A rocket-powered, vertical-landing space-access technology demonstrator reached its highest altitude and furthest distance to date March 25 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif., using a developmental navigation system designed to land a space vehicle on other celestial bodies.

Masten Space Systemsí XA-0.1B ìXombieî suborbital rocket lifted off the launch pad for an 80-second flight while being controlled by Charles Stark Draper Laboratoryís Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment (GENIE) system developed under NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

This combined capability of a rocket-powered demonstrator and a closed-loop planetary Guidance, Navigation and Control system allows NASA to begin testing prototype landing instruments for future missions to the Moon or Mars under realistic conditions without leaving Earth.

Tye Brady, principal investigator for Draper Lab’s GENIE flight control system, makes final adjustments to the system on Masten Space Systems’ Xombie technology demonstration rocket before liftoff.

Two hundred meters above the Martian or lunar surface is not the place you want to be using an innovative new sensor or landing algorithm for the first time,” explained Christopher Baker of the Flight Opportunities Program at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. “We are working to create an environment that provides opportunities to test these systems a little closer to home.”

Xombie rose 1,626 feet, or nearly 500 meters ñ higher than New York’s Empire State Building moving in a trajectory that replicated the speed and angle of a planetary approach. It landed 984 feet, nearly 300 meters, away from the take off site. The flight established a test-bed capability that will allow for landing demonstrations that start at much higher altitudesóseveral miles above the ground.

“While computer simulations provide some value as systems are developed, testing that system in a relevant flight environment is invaluable,” said Colin Ake, Masten’s director of business development. ìWe want our vehicles to facilitate innovation and lower the current barriers to space access. We hope this is just the beginning of many more landing tests for NASA and Draper.

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie space-access technology demonstrator lifts off on its highest and longest flight to date, guided by Draper Lab’s GENIE navigation and control system.

With a growing interest in using commercial suborbital launch vehicles to demonstrate planetary landing technology applications for future space missions, the Flight Opportunities Program funded the development of precision landing technology demonstrations.

Draper, based in Cambridge, Mass., was selected to lead this engineering and integration demonstration effort. Draper subsequently teamed with Masten, based in Mojave, to provide the vertical takeoff and landing flight vehicle to demonstrate this new landing technology. Flight safety and assurance monitoring was performed by Mastenís Senseiô software during flight.

“Draper is excited to be a part of a team that demonstrated such a unique capability, combining our guidance, navigation and control technology with a proven test flight platform like Xombie, said Doug Zimpfer, Draper’s associate director for human space exploration. ìWe believe the GENIE and Xombie system provide NASA with the platform necessary to demonstrate a wide range of exciting planetary landing technologies including advanced guidance technology.

Masten’s Xombie space-access technology demonstrator descends for landing after its highest and longest flight to date, guided by Draper Lab’s GENIE navigation and control system.

Flight Opportunities initiated the test efforts in December 2011. The flights built incrementally on ground simulations, tethered flights and closed-loop flight demonstrations. The most recent flight demonstrated an expanded Xombie and GENIE envelope for precision planetary landing that includes enough margin to integrate additional landing sensor technologies in the future.

The Flight Opportunities Program, part of NASAís Space Technology Mission Directorate, is enabling demonstration and maturation of new technology payloads using suborbital reusable launch vehicles, high-altitude balloons and parabolic aircraft to expose technology payloads to space-relevant environments of reduced gravity or near-space flights.

The program facilitates low-cost access to suborbital environments for a broad range of innovators as a means of advancing space technology development and supporting the evolving entrepreneurial commercial space industry.

The Space Technology Mission Directorate will develop the cross-cutting, advanced and pioneering new technologies needed for NASA’s current and future missions, many of which also benefit America’s aerospace industries, other government agencies, and address national needs.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs April 18, 2014

Commissary The Edwards Commissary will be open 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., April 20. CCAF graduation The Community College of the Air Force Graduation Ceremony is 2:30-4:30 p.m., May 7 at Club Muroc. The graduation ceremony will honor the October 2013 and the April 2014 CCAF classes and will also recognize enlisted Airmen who have completed their...
 
 

Spring season = Spring clean up at Edwards

Winter is finally over and Spring has arrived! Despite the cold mornings or the blustery winds we have battled, the weather is definitely turning warmer. Just like the things we do every year at home, clearing winter debris blown into our yards or removing dead plants and weeds, at Edwards AFB we have an annual...
 
 

April 14 – Pulse on AF force management

WASHINGTON – New eligibility criteria, application deadlines and status updates are all featured in this force management update, an ongoing effort to bring Airmen the latest, most accurate information concerning the complex and dynamic force management programs. Additional TERA, VSP windows The Air Force will open two new fiscal year 2014 temporary early retirement authority...
 

 

NASA signs agreement with German, Canadian partners to test alternative fuels

NASA has signed separate agreements with the German Aerospace Center and the National Research Council of Canada to conduct a series of joint flight tests to study the atmospheric effects of emissions from jet engines burning alternative fuels. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS II) flights are set to begin May...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Bobbi Zapka

X-47B wins Collier Trophy

Northrop Grumman photograph by Alan Radecki The two X-47B test aircraft pause between flight test events at Edwards AFB, Calif. The two vehicles were built by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, Calif., and performed all of their ini...
 
 

Hazardous waste roundup slated for April 26

Edwards AFB Environmental Management is hosting a Household Hazardous and Universal Waste Roundup on Saturday, April 26. The roundup is at the Base Housing Office, 402 West Forbes Ave., Bldg. 6696, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Base housing and dormitory residents can drive up and drop off household hazardous and universal waste for free....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>