Xombie is a Masten Space Systems technology demonstrator for building a rocket that can land propulsively with pinpoint accuracy while simulating a planetary approach.
Watch the Xombie take off and land below:
In this test the Xombie rocket basted off from one test pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port traveling 1600 feet into the air and moving 1000 feet laterally before descending under its own rocket power and making a pinpoint landing on a second test pad.
Xombie uses Draper Lab’s GENIE navigation and control system that is designed to replicate the speed and angle of a planetary, such as a Moon or Mars, approach. This combined capability of a rocket-powered demonstrator and a closed-loop planetary Guidance, Navigation and Control system allows NASA to begin testing prototype landing instruments for future missions to the Moon or Mars under realistic conditions without leaving Earth.
“Two hundred meters above the Martian or lunar surface is not the place you want to be using an innovative new sensor or landing algorithm for the first time,” explained Christopher Baker of the Flight Opportunities Program at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. “We are working to create an environment that provides opportunities to test these systems a little closer to home.”
The testing of these systems is provided by the NASA Flight Opportunities Program, part NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The program allows for demonstration and maturation of new technology using suborbital reusable launch vehicles to expose technology payloads to space-relevant environments of reduced gravity or near-space flights to aid in the development process. This allows NASA to facilitate low-cost access to suborbital environments for a broad range of innovators as a means of advancing space technology development and supporting the evolving entrepreneurial commercial space industry.
To find out more about the NASA Flight Opportunities program visit https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/
To learn more about another Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing rocket read up on SpaceX’s Grasshopper here: http://astronomyaggregator.com/spaceflight/grasshopper-does-the-hoverslam/
Image Credit: NASA/Masten Space Systems