Space

June 30, 2014

Masten’s Xombie flight tests astrobotic’s autonomous landing system

Masten’s rocket-powered Xombie technology demonstration vehicle rockets skyward during a flight test of Astrobotic Technology’s autonomous landing system.

Astrobotic Technology’s newly developed autonomous landing system was put to the test recently when it controlled Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored launch and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif.

In a June 20 test funded by the Flight Opportunities Program of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing Xombie ascended to about 853 feet (260 meters) in 25 seconds. During the boost phase, the Astrobotic Autolanding System (AAS) was activated and it navigated the vehicle to a precise landing location, avoiding sand bags that had been placed as mock hazards. If the AAS had chosen a landing point other than one of the two open pads, Masten software would have overridden the prototype system to land the vehicle safely.

The test objectives included accurately tracking Xombie’s location, detecting hazards larger than 10 inches (25 centimeters) and finding an acceptable landing location. The AAS uses cameras and an inertial measurement unit for navigation, because the Global Positioning System used on Earth would not be available for a landing on another planet or the moon.

“Conceptually, this is like the Apollo missions where the astronauts navigated to a safe landing by looking out the window of the lunar landing module,” explained Kevin Peterson, Astrobotic’s chief technology officer. “In this case, we have an onboard computer instead of an astronaut, and the cameras, inertial measurement unit and software are so precise that they can track the craft’s location to within a few meters.”

In February, Mojave-based Masten and Astrobotic, headquartered in Pitttsburgh, had flown the Xombie in an open-loop test in which the AAS payload was running and collecting data. The open-loop flights followed a pre-set trajectory, but the vehicle did not accept any data or commands from the autonomous landing system.

Engineering intern Nick Robbins and aerospace engineer Tyler Roberson of Masten Space Systems complete installation of Astrobotic’s autonomous landing system atop the Xombie technology demonstration vehicle.

The June 20 flight test was a closed-loop flight where the Astrobotic landing technology sent both data and commands to Xombie, influencing its flight path to avoid hazards and land safely.

“I am very excited by the preliminary results of this test,” said Chris Baker, Flight Opportunities Program campaign manager. “Terrain relative navigation and autonomous hazard avoidance are on the technology road maps for missions to Mars, Europa and elsewhere in the solar system. Two small companies working together have successfully demonstrated technologies that will not only assist them in their future endeavors, but have also been identified as enabling future NASA missions.”

Through NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, officials have been working with commercial companies, universities and government organizations to coordinate testing of innovative space technologies on research flights through the use of commercial suborbital flight platforms.

Astrobotic Technology’s autonomous landing system is mounted atop Masten Space Systems’ Xombie vehicle prior to launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The Flight Opportunities Program is managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the solicitation and selection of technologies to be tested and demonstrated on commercial flight vehicles.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. Over the next 18 months, the directorate will make significant new investments that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration.

Click here for the YouTube link




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


 
 

 

Headlines March 2, 2015

News: Israel lobbies for more missile defense funds than Obama sought - For the second consecutive year, Israeli officials have asked the U.S. Congress to add more than $300 million to President Barack Obama’s budget request for their nation’s missile-defense programs.   Business: Inside one of the most intense, and unusual, Pentagon contracting wars - The much-anticipated...
 
 

News Briefs March 2, 2015

Italy resumes Navy exercise amid new tensions over Libya The Italian Navy is resuming exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, including near the coast of Libya, amid concerns about rapidly deteriorating security in the North African nation. The exercise began March 2 and includes anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship training operations. The exercise was suspended for a...
 
 
LM-AEHF

Ingenuity drives Lockheed’s AEHF program to production milestone early

Lockheed Martin has successfully integrated the propulsion core and payload module for the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite nearly five months ahead of schedule. Reaching this critical milestone early a...
 

 

First all-electric propulsion satellites send first on-orbit signals

Two Boeing 702SP (small platform) satellites, the first all-electric propulsion satellites to launch, have sent initial signals from space, marking the first step toward ABS, based in Bermuda, and Eutelsat, based in Paris, being able to provide enhanced communication services to their customers. Whatís more, the satellites were launched as a conjoined stack on a...
 
 

GA-ASI, Sener team to offer Predator B to Spain

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. and SENER, a leading Spanish engineering company, announced March 2 that they have signed a teaming agreement that promotes the use of the multi-mission Predator B® RPA to support Spain’s airborne surveillance and reconnaissance requirements.  GAASI is a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems, radars, and electro-optic and relate...
 
 
raytheon-satellite

Raytheon’s ‘Blue Marble’ imaging sensor delivered on schedule

Raytheon has delivered a second Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System mission. The second VIIRS unit will fly ab...
 




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>