Morpheus Moving Forward Not Starting Over


Video courtesy of NASA

NASA has released the following video that highlighted the loss of the space agency’s Morpheus lander. This prototype vehicle began testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas but was recently moved to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility where the lander tipped over, crashing to the ground and catching fire.

The Morpheus website covered the loss of the lander as such:

On Thursday we made our second free flight attempt with the Morpheus prototype vehicle. As you can see in the video below, shortly after liftoff we experienced a hardware failure and lost the vehicle. The root cause is still under investigation, but what we do know is that at the start of ascent we lost data from the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that supplies navigation updates to the flight computer. Without this measurement the vehicle is blind and does not know which way it is pointing or accelerating. Since this data is needed to maintain stable flight, the vehicle could not determine which way was up and began to tumble and impacted the ground about 50 feet from the launch site. No one was injured, no property was damaged besides the vehicle and we have been able to recover significant data, which will give us greater insight into the source of the problem. 

During a media event held about a week prior it was stated that the Morpheus team could produce a second lander in fairly short order. Much of the components that comprise Morpheus are off-the-shelf making the lander far easier to reproduce.

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