Video: Morpheus flies higher and farther than ever

March 12, 2014 by Jason Major, Universe Today
Video: Morpheus flies higher and farther than ever
Engineers prepare the Morpheus craft for the FF9 test flight on March 11, 2014. Credit: NASA

NASA's Project Morpheus nailed it again today with yet another successful free flight of their prototype lander, soaring higher, faster, and farther than ever before! Go Morpheus!

The FF9 test, which occurred at 3:41 p.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center, saw the 2,300-lb (1000-kg) Morpheus craft rise to a height of 580 feet (177 meters) and travel 837 feet (255 m) downrange at 30 mph (48 km/h). After the 85-second the craft set down almost exactly on target—only about a foot (.3 m) off.During today's the oxygen-and-methane-propelled Morpheus could have cleared the Washington Monument.

The next step is to integrate the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) sensors, which allow the craft to identify dangerous terrain and determine the best route to a safe landing—all by itself. This capability will be invaluable for future landings on unexplored surfaces on the Moon and Mars.

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"It's never been done," said Dr. Jon Olansen, project manager of the Morpheus Project, in 2012. "We've never landed of the moon or Mars with real-time hazard detection and avoidance. Most of the Mars missions use air bags. They go where they go, they roll them and they stop… whatever comes, comes."

UPDATE: Here's the "official" NASA video of FF9, showing some fantastic camera views from the craft itself:

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not rated yet Mar 12, 2014
sure would help if the videos played, instead the green arrow with error #2036!!
5 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2014
According to the wiki page for the Morpheus program:

Videos of the test flights have been posted on the Morpheus Lander Channel on YouTube

I can't access youtube from here, so I can't verify that info, but you might check there. Be sure to look for the first free flight test, as that's the one where the first prototype was destroyed in a crash.

I'm way more impressed with the SpaceX Grasshopper than the Morpheus though. Yes, I understand that Morpheus has hazard avoidance and safer fuel, but still, the Grasshopper is an entire first stage booster! It's totally cool.

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