Morpheus Lander, at Johnson Space Center (snapshot)


Here's a phone snapshot I just took of the Morpheus vertical lander, just hangin' out at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.

Morpheus is a vertical test bed demonstrating new green propellant propulsion systems and autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. Designed, developed, manufactured and operated in-house by engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Morpheus Project represents not only a vehicle to advance technologies, but also an opportunity to try out "lean development" engineering practices.

It was manufactured and assembled at JSC and Armadillo Aerospace. Morpheus is large enough to carry 1,100 pounds of cargo to the moon - for example, a humanoid robot, a small rover, or a small laboratory to convert moon dust into oxygen - performing all propellant burns after the trans lunar injection. The primary focus of the test bed is to demonstrate an integrated propulsion and guidance, navigation and control system that can fly a lunar descent profile to exercise the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) safe landing sensors and closed-loop flight control. Additional objectives include technology demonstrations - for instance, tank material and manufacture, reaction control thrusters, main engine performance improvements, helium pressurization systems, ground operations, flight operations, range safety, software and avionics architecture.


  1. Should I ever become a superhero, I’ll take “Morpheus Lander” as my new identity.

  2. I wonder how many people appreciate the fact that NASA has purchased this from a garage operation, and use a testing method pioneered by that very same garage operation. I think it’s great, but I’m really leery that NASA is not giving credit where credit is due. Congrats to the Alt Space Pioneers at Armadillo Aerospace.

  3. My Fast Karate senses immediately tingled when I read, “Just hangin’ out.”

  4. I believe it was designed and developed by Armadillo Aerospace (John Carmack’s rocket design project); manufactured by Armadillo and NASA; and opperated by NASA.

  5. And in other news…

    Armadillo Aerospace are planning to launch their first cylindrical rocket really soon from Spaceport America. Hover tests before first flight have been completed. Intended flight envelope for the first launch is 100000 feet.

    Check out the blog on the Armadillo website for latest videos!

  6. Great, we’ve gone from spacecraft shaped like giant penises to ones shaped like giant scrotums.

  7. I hope the designers put plenty of anti-slosh plates in those big tanks. Neil Armstrong would approve.

  8. As a libertarian, it’s very confirming to watch 20 to 30 full time government workers doing the same thing that 8 guys working part time (Tuesdays and Saturdays) after their real jobs did in a garage. Four years ago. Go Armadillo!

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