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.


 
 

 
Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft stays course to Pluto

Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI These images show the difference between two sets of 48 combined 10-second exposures with New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, taken at 8:40 UTC and 10:25 UTC...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Fourth Lockheed Martin-built MUOS secure comm satellite shipped

Lockheed Martin photograph On June 28, MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, shipped to Cape Canaveral from Lockheed Martin’s satellite manu...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz

NASA’s Chandra captures x-ray echoes pinpointing distant neutron star

Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz A light echo in X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided a rare opportunity to precisely measure the distance to an object on the other side of the...
 

 

Veteran NASA spacecraft nears 60,000th lap around Mars

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft will reach a major milestone June 23, when it completes its 60,000th orbit since arriving at the Red Planet in 2001. Named after the bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars almost 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it...
 
 
nasa-study

NASA selects six wild ideas in aviation for further study

NASA has selected six proposals to study transformative ideas that might expand what’s possible in aviation, shifting the boundary between fantastic and futuristic. During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched the...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA signs agreement with Space Florida to operate historic landing facility

NASA photograph This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wi...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>