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 August 22, 2014

News: GAO: Pentagon violated law with Bergdahl swap - Congressional investigators say the Pentagon violated the law when it swapped five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years.   Business: U.S. Air Force issues RFI for new rocket engine - The US Air Force is officially looking into...
 
 

News Briefs August 22, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,200 As of Aug. 20, 2014, at least 2,200 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,821 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
navair-triton

MQ-4C Tritons to arrive at Pax River this fall

  MQ-4C Triton test air vehicles at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., will fly cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., this fall. The MQ-4C completed a test flight Aug. 19 with updated ...
 

 
Boeing photograph

Boeing program completes critical design, safety reviews

Boeing photograph Boeing recently completed the Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft and the Critical Design Review of its integrated systems, meeting all of the companyís Commerci...
 
 
global-hawk2

Air Combat Command loans Global Hawk to GVCTF

Air Force photograph by Jennifer Romo The 412th Test Wing’s Global Vigilance Combined Test Force received a Global Hawk Block 40 Aug. 6, on loan from Air Combat Command. Tail number 2035, from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., is jo...
 
 

NASA awards program analysis, Control Bridge III Contract

NASA has awarded the Program Analysis and Control III Bridge contract for support services to ASRC Research & Technology Solutions of Beltsville, Md. The cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity basic contract has a minimum ordering value of $1 million and a maximum ordering value of $37 million, with a performance period beginning Aug. 30 through Feb....
 




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>