Morpheus Lander, at Johnson Space Center (snapshot)

morpheussm.jpg

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.