February 16, 2012
Xombie Rocket’s First Free-Flight Test Successful
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Draper Laboratory has performed its first free-flight test of Masten Space Systems' "Xombie" rocket using the Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment System (GENIE), reports the Associated PressThe rocket is being developed for a NASA program to help explore vertical landing systems for solar system exploration.
The Xombie suborbital rocket hovered about 164 feet off the ground, and safely landed back onto the platform.
Draper said the testing exercised the autonomous guidance, navigation, and control technology needed to fly planetary landing trajectories.
The free-flight test was conducted at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles.
The GENIE precision landing GN&C system was developed jointly between Draper and NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) under the Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) effort.
Masten Space Systems won a $1 million prize in a NASA-backed simulated lunar landing contest using its Xombie rocket in 2009.
Spacecraft used by NASA today are unable to fly at the desired trajectories for planetary landings, and computer simulations are used to generate the data.
GENIE helps the vehicle mimic a spacecraft's final approach to the Moon and Mars on Earth, enabling scientists to get a better assessment of the readiness level of the spacecraft.
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