Headlines > News > NASA's 'Mighty Eagle' Robotic Prototype Lander Flies Again at Marshall

NASA's 'Mighty Eagle' Robotic Prototype Lander Flies Again at Marshall

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:16 am via: NASA
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The “Mighty Eagle,” a NASA robotic prototype lander, is soaring high again for a series of tests being conducted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Since its last round of tests in 2011, the Mighty Eagle team has made significant updates to the guidance controls on the lander’s camera, furthering its autonomous capabilities. The three-legged “green” lander is fueled by 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide and receives its commands from an onboard computer that activates its onboard thrusters to carry it to a controlled landing using a pre-programmed flight profile. It is 4 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter and, when fueled, weighs 700 pounds.

"Mighty Eagle" soars during its successful first untethered flight on Aug. 8, 2012. (NASA/MSFC)

"Mighty Eagle" soars during its successful first untethered flight on Aug. 8, 2012. (NASA/MSFC)

In this series of tests, which will continue through September, the lander prototype will autonomously fly and hover at 30 feet for two tests, and up to 100 feet for another two tests, and then move sideways, to safely land 30 feet away from the launch pad. The test demonstrates what it will take to perform the final descent of an autonomous controlled landing on the moon, asteroids or other airless bodies.

“These lander tests provide the data necessary to expand our capabilities to go to other destinations,” said Dr. Greg Chavers, engineering manager and warm gas test article lead at the Marshall Center. “It also furthers our knowledge of the engineering components needed for future human and robotic missions.” NASA will use the Mighty Eagle to mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals throughout the solar system.

The Mighty Eagle prototype lander was developed by the Marshall Center and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., for NASA’s Planetary Sciences Division, Headquarters Science Mission Directorate. Key partners in this project include the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, which includes the Science Applications International Corporation, Dynetics Corp. and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., all of Huntsville.

3 Comments
Mighty Eagle 1 : 0 Morpheus

poor Morpheus :(

btw: anybody else who finds it amusing that with both programs NASA is basically repeating what Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems and Unreasonable Rocket have been doing for years during the NGLLC? ;)
I find it confusing and strange. In those cases NASA has the money and other programs are cut back.
I'm not sure about the Mighty Eagle budget, but I've read that Project Morpheus has a "whopping" 7 million dollar budget. So I don't think that will hurt other programs too much.

While I agree with you, that NASA's budget spending is rather confusing sometimes, I do think that such "hands on" projects are very useful for NASA.

If only the would finally get out of the business of developing expendable launch vehicles... that's a business others can do a lot better (and without influence of congress).
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