The first free flight of a Morpheus prototype lander was conducted Dec. 10, 2013, at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. The 54-second test began with the Morpheus lander launching from the ground over a flame trench and ascending approximately 50 feet, then hovering for about 15 seconds. The lander then flew forward and landed on its pad about 23 feet from the launch point.
Project Morpheus integrates NASA’s automated landing and hazard avoidance technology (ALHAT) with an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, or “green” propellants, into a fully operational lander that could deliver cargo to asteroids and other planetary surfaces. Morpheus and ALHAT are examples of the partnerships that exist within the agency since seven of the 10 NASA centers have contributed time, energy and resources to both.