NASA's next generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers (pictures)
by James Martin
Free-flying robotic lander successfully demonstrates NASA's advanced automated rendezvous and capture technology.
|NASA says Mighty Eagle's guidance, navigation and control software could aid in the capture of orbiting space debris, in-space docking with a fuel depot, docking of a robotic lander with an orbiting command module, and the rendezvous of multiple unmanned stages for deep space human exploration of the solar system.|
|Marshall Center engineers Logan Kennedy, right, and Adam Lacock check out the lander prototype, dubbed the Mighty Eagle.|
|The Mighty Eagle robotic prototype lander is being tested near historic Saturn-IC Static and F-1 test stands at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.|
|After undergoing significant upgrades to the guidance controls on the lander's camera, furthering its autonomous capabilities, the Mighty Eagle a NASA robotic prototype lander, had a successful first untethered flight this week at the Marshall Center. During the 34-second flight, Mighty Eagle soared and hovered at 30 feet, moved sideways, looked for its target, and safely landed on the launchpad.|
|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.|