NASA’s Project Morpheus, a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) lander, has had its ups and downs in the past – including a rather fiery incident a few years back – but this week the American space agency was able to report quite a success. The landing module has successfully completed Free Flight 11 and NASA has captured the event on video.
The Morpheus lander lifts off, traverses 400 metres sideways and touches down again on a landing area that is strewn with obstacles. The ability to land in this manner isn’t that new but NASA is testing their Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) system with these flights.
Eventually ALHAT will be controlling the landing itself though, for this run, it was just imaging the ground while the lander flew on a pre-programmed path. In the long run, ALHAT could become a form of astronaut autopilot by navigating hazards and picking out its own landing spot. NASA says that tests next month will see the ALHAT system in control of the rocket, hopefully the performance seen then is just as good as what the space agency has presented.
Source: via Engadget