New ‘Mighty Eagle’ Lander Passes Test With Flying Colours.
NASA’s “Mighty Eagle” — a robotic prototype for new landers to explore the moon — has passed a major test with its first successful free flight, the space agency announced this week.
Without using a tether (a first for the vehicle), the lander took off, hovered at about 33 feet (10 meters), flew sideways, and landed safely on its prescribed target, video of the the Aug. 8 test flight shows. The entire flight lasted 34 seconds and took place at NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The three-legged spacecraft is 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter. It weighs 700 pounds (317 kilograms) when filled with its fuel, which is made up of 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide, according to NASA.
After the lander’s previous round of testing in 2011, engineers upgraded the guidance controls on the lander’s camera, improving its autonomous capabilities, NASA officials said. In tests scheduled through September, engineers plan to get the lander flying and hovering autonomously at up to 100 feet (30 m).
“These lander tests provide the data necessary to expand our capabilities to go to other destinations,” Greg Chavers, engineering manager at the Marshall Center, said in an Aug. 13 statement. “It also furthers our knowledge of the engineering components needed for future human and robotic missions.”
The Mighty Eagle’s successful untethered flight came one day before another NASA lander prototype’s fiery test failure at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In that Aug. 9 test flight, engineers with NASA’s Project Morpheus based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston attempted to make the first untethered flight of the Morpheus lander over a mock moonscape.
A failure caused the Morpheus lander to flip over and explode shortly after liftoff. Project Morpheus officials are studying the failure and plan to upgrade a second Morpheus lander for future tests. Source: MSNBC
Russia Starts Building Moon Spaceship
Russia has started building a spacecraft for manned Lunar missions with the first test scheduled in 2015, the project developer said Thursday. “The work has already started. The unmanned tests are scheduled in 2015, the first manned mission is planned in 2018,” head of the Central Research Institute of Machine Building Gennady Raikunov told local media.
These spaceships are designed to land on and lift off from the Moon, work as space tug boats and service modules for other space vehicles, Raikunov said.
“(Russian federal space agency) Roscosmos has planned the creation of a new manned transportation system to conduct manned flights to the Moon, servicing the vehicles in space,” he said.
Raikunov linked the Lunar program to the fate of Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). Whether Russia will continue the ISS work after 2020 depends on the progress of the Lunar program.
“It is necessary to determine the main direction of manned cosmonautics development. Current strategy envisages focusing on the manned flights to the Moon, including the creation of a base on its surface,” he said.
Last week, head of the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Corp. Victor Khartov said Russia must “return to the Moon in 2015 in a Soviet style, to prove everyone and ourselves that we remember all the Soviet Union could do” at the Farnborough air show in Britain.
The Russian space strategy until 2030 presented by Roscosmos regards the Moon missions as a step toward the manned flight to Mars. Source: Moon Daily
- NASA’s New Moon Lander Crashes and Burns (davidreneke.com)