Mighty Eagle scores longest, highest flight yet

Nov 01, 2012 by Shannon Ridinger
Overcast skies didn't deter the "Mighty Eagle," flying high above the historic F-1 test stand – formerly used to test turbopumps for Saturn first stage engines. Credit: NASA/MSFC/Dennis Olive

(Phys.org)—The "Mighty Eagle," a NASA robotic prototype lander, reached its highest altitude and velocity—and longest duration—on Oct. 25 when it soared to a height of more than 150 feet during a flight that lasted about 45 seconds.

"We are very proud of this safe, successful flight," said Dr. Greg Chavers, test lead for the project. "The vehicle flew to a record height, and proved that it could handle the increased and flight duration."

Previously, the "Mighty Eagle's" highest flight was 100 feet, with a flight duration of about 35 seconds.

"We are really excited," added Patrick O'Leary, one of the test engineers for the project. "When I first started working on this project four years ago, our first vehicle—called the Test Article—could only do 10 feet for about 10 seconds. We've come a long way with the 'Mighty Eagle'."

O'Leary says the increased height and flight duration means that the vehicle could be used for different applications including testing sensors and other equipment that require higher altitudes and longer durations in the air.

"It really increases our capabilities for testing," said O'Leary. "To get to the increased height, we had to increase the speed of the vehicle, and today's test proved that we could do that successfully."

The "Mighty Eagle," nicknamed after one of the characters in the popular "Angry Birds" game, is a three-legged prototype vehicle that resembled an actual flight design. It is 4 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter, and weighs about 700 pounds when fueled. It is a green vehicle, fueled by 90 percent pure , and is guided by an onboard computer that activates the to power the craft's movements.

will use the "Mighty Eagle" to mature the technology needed to develop a of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon, asteroids or other airless bodies.

The "Mighty Eagle" was developed by the Marshall Space Flight Center and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., for NASA Headquarter's Planetary Sciences Division, Science Mission Directorate. Key partners in this project include the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, which includes the Science Applications International Corporation, Dynetics Corp., and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., all of Huntsville.


Explore further: Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Mighty Eagle' lander aces major exam

Sep 06, 2012

(Phys.org)—Completing this round of flight test objectives, the "Mighty Eagle," a NASA robotic prototype lander, flew to an altitude of 100 feet and descended gently to a controlled landing during a successful ...

'Mighty Eagle' robotic lander finds its target

Aug 17, 2012

NASA's "Mighty Eagle" successfully found its target during a 32-second free flight Aug. 16 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. This small, versatile robotic lander prototype demonstrates ...

NASA flies Robotic Lander prototype to new heights

Nov 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA successfully completed the final flight in a series of tests of a new robotic lander prototype at the Redstone Test Center’s propulsion test facility on the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, ...

NASA robotic lander test will aid in future lander designs

Oct 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA will conduct a 100-foot robotic lander altitude test flight Friday, Nov. 4, to mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving ...

Recommended for you

NKorea launch pad expansion 'nearing completion'

3 hours ago

A U.S. research institute says construction to upgrade North Korea's main rocket launch pad should be completed by fall, allowing Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng) to conduct a launch by year's end if it decides to do so.

Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

9 hours ago

Look up at the night sky this week and you'll find Mars and Saturn together in the west. Mars stands out with its reddish colouring and you might just be able to detect a faint yellow tinge to Saturn. ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

aennen
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2012
I am a bit underwelmed by this acheivement given that we have self driving cars, planes that can land themselves, quadcopters that can navigate through rooms.... so unless the time challenge is propelent or such control should be a non issue.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2012
Cars, planes and quadrocopters don't operate in an vacuum.

This craft does.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2012
@ aennen: Each vehicle has its own problems, and the ones you compare with are mass produced. When the number of launch&launder stages gets to the same level, they will presumably be much as well understood.

Very few l&l's have been developed as of yet. Most rocket stages are either or.