NASA's next generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers (pictures)
Mighty Eagle robotic lander prototype
NASA says Mighty Eagle's guidance, navigation and control software could aid in the capture of orbiting space debris, in-space docking with a fuel depot, docking of a robotic lander with an orbiting command module, and the rendezvous of multiple unmanned stages for deep space human exploration of the solar system.
Engineers perpare 'Mighty Eagle' for flight
Marshall Center engineers Logan Kennedy, right, and Adam Lacock check out the lander prototype, dubbed the Mighty Eagle.
Flight tests at Marshall Space Flight Center
The Mighty Eagle robotic prototype lander is being tested near historic Saturn-IC Static and F-1 test stands at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Mighty Eagle floats in first successful untethered flight
After undergoing significant upgrades to the guidance controls on the lander's camera, furthering its autonomous capabilities, the Mighty Eagle a NASA robotic prototype lander, had a successful first untethered flight this week at the Marshall Center. During the 34-second flight, Mighty Eagle soared and hovered at 30 feet, moved sideways, looked for its target, and safely landed on the launchpad.
The three-legged "green" lander is fueled by 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide and receives its commands from an onboard computer that activates its onboard thrusters to carry it to a controlled landing.