Space

April 3, 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.


 
 

 

Headlines September 17, 2014

News: Pentagon open to U.S. ground troops in fight against Islamic State - The Pentagon’s top general opened the door Sept. 16 to the possibility that U.S. combat troops would be needed in Iraq, as he publicly laid out President Obama’s still-developing plans to combat Islamic State insurgents through U.S. air power and relying on an...
 
 

News Briefs September 17, 2014

U.S. to assign 3,000 troops to fight Ebola The Obama administration is preparing to assign 3,000 U.S. military personnel to West Africa to combat the Ebola outbreak that has overwhelmed local health care systems and drawn appeals for help from the region and aid organizations. The troops will supply medical and logistical support and boost...
 
 
Navy photograph

Future USNS Fall River delivered

Navy photograph The joint high speed vessel USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) completes acceptance trials testing and evaluations in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship’s trials included dockside testing to clear the ship for sea and at-...
 

 
University of Alaska-Fairbanks photograph by Chris Larsen

NASA airborne campaigns focus on climate impacts in Arctic

University of Alaska-Fairbanks photograph by Chris Larsen Changes in more than 130 Alaskan glaciers are being surveyed by scientists at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in a DHC-3 Otter as part of NASA’s multi-year Oper...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory finds planet that makes star act deceptively old

Image courtesy of NASA/CXC/M. Weiss A new study from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that a giant exoplanet, WASP-18b, is making the star that it orbits very closely act much older than it actually is. This artist&...
 




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>