Space

February 5, 2014

Masten’s Xombie tests JPL’s G-FOLD precision landing software

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie rocket fires its landing thrusters as it touches down on a landing pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tested its G-FOLD algorithm that enables an autonomous
diversion to an alternate landing site on the Xombie in 2013.

With engineers and officials from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory watching, Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B “Xombie” took to the sky again in the fall of 2013. The flight on Sept. 20 was the conclusion of a test campaign to assess the performance of JPL’s Guidance for Fuel Optimal Large Diverts (G-FOLD) algorithm under mission conditions.

More ambitious than the previous flights, this test had the Xombie rocket initially travel diagonally away from the target landing site after launch. This simulated a worst-case spacecraft landing maneuver and forced the G-FOLD algorithm to calculate, in real time, a flight path that crossed over itself to reach the safe landing site, according to JPL’s Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed team.

“G-FOLD presents a dramatic improvement in our ability to execute large divert maneuvers with limited fuel,” said ADAPT team lead Martin Regehr.

According to team members, the accurately executed half-mile-long (0.8-kilometer), three-dimensional divert showed the potential of what G-FOLD could mean for future space missions. Compared to the software used to land NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover in August 2012, G-FOLD can provide six times more divert range for a lander of that class. Such a capability would be needed for landing on Europa or for human missions to Mars.

A member of Masten Space Systems’ ground crew makes final adjustments to the firm’s technology demonstrator rocket before liftoff on the final test flight of JPL’s G-FOLD spacecraft landing flight control software.

The ADAPT team believes that G-FOLD also might reduce the difficulty of future robotic missions to Mars, allowing rovers to land closer to features of interest instead of driving long distances to reach them. A future rover similar to Curiosity might be able to land right next to a target of scientific interest like Mount Sharp instead of driving for a year to get there.

Even though this is the culmination of the current round of testing, JPL’s ADAPT team still has far-reaching plans for G-FOLD and for further tests of other landing technologies.

To further enhance future mission capability, JPL plans to use ADAPT to demonstrate terrain-relative navigation using the Lander Vision System together with G-FOLD in 2014.

This effort was performed by JPL, based in Pasadena, Calif., with participation from the University of Texas at Austin; Masten Space Systems, Inc., Mojave, Calif.; and was supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunity Program, managed by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

Click here for video feed

From left, Masten Space Systems’ Xombie technology demonstrator lifts off during the final flight test of JPL’s G-FOLD precision flight control algorithm, autonomously diverts to an alternate landing site, and descends for landing at the alternate site.




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


 
 

 

Headlines September 2, 2014

News: Debris yields clues that pilot never ejected - When investigators were finally able to safely enter the crash site of an F-15C “Eagle” fighter jet on the afternoon of Aug. 27, they made a grim discovery that concluded more than 30 hours of searching – the pilot never managed to eject from the aircraft.  ...
 
 

News Briefs September 2, 2014

Pentagon: Iraq operations cost $560 million so far U.S. military operations in Iraq, including airstrikes and surveillance flights, have cost about $560 million since mid-June, the Pentagon said Aug. 29. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the average daily cost has been $7.5 million. He said it began at a much lower...
 
 

Unmanned aircraft partnership reaches major milestone

A team of research students and staff from Warsaw University of Technology have successfully demonstrated the first phase of flight test and integration of unmanned aircraft platforms with an autonomous mission control system. The demonstration marks a significant milestone in a partnership between the university and Lockheed Martin that began earlier this year. This is...
 

 

Raytheon delivers first Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles to US Navy

Raytheon delivered the first Block 2 variant of its Rolling Airframe Missile system to the U.S. Navy as part of the company’s 2012 Low Rate Initial Production contract. RAM Block 2 is a significant performance upgrade featuring enhanced kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver, and an improved control system. “As today’s threats continue to evolve,...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Two Vietnam War Soldiers, one from Civil War to receive Medal of Honor

U.S. Army graphic Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and former Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. The White House announced Aug. 26 that Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. A...
 
 

Sparks fly as NASA pushes limits of 3-D printing technology

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector – a highly complex part that...
 




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>