COBALT Flight Demonstrations Fuse Technologies to Gain Precision Landing Results


Team members from the NASA COBALT team and the Masten Xodiac team hold a pre-campaign TIM (Technical Interchange Meeting) to iron out remaining technical hurdles and operations logistics in preparation for the COBALT payload integration onto Xodiac for the open-loop flight testing. The image is taken in the Masten Xodiac hangar, and Xodiac is in the background. The COBALT payload sits atop Xodiac in the empty payload frame. (Credit: NASA)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Many regions in the solar system beckon for exploration, but they are considered unreachable due to technology gaps in current landing systems. The CoOperative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies (COBALT) project, conducted by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, could change that.

Through a flight campaign this month through April, COBALT will mature and demonstrate new guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) technologies to enable precision landing for future exploration missions.

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Laser-based Navigation Sensor Could Be Standard for Planetary Landing Missions

Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA's Langley Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)
Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA’s Langley Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A laser-guided navigation sensor that could help future rovers make safe, precise landings on Mars or destinations beyond will soon undergo testing in California’s Mojave Desert.

The Navigation Doppler Lidar, or NDL, which was developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will be flight tested aboard a rocket-powered Vertical Take-off, Vertical Landing (VTVL) platform, named Xodiac, developed by Masten Space Systems, in Mojave, California.

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Video of Masten’s Xodiac & XaeroB in Action

Video Caption: Introducing the next generation of reusable rockets – Masten’s Xodiac and XaeroB.

As the successors to Xombie, Xoie, and Xaero, these two rockets serve as terrestrial test beds for commercial and government developers. Features of Masten terrestrial test bed include:

  • precision vertical landing
  • custom flight profile
  • rapid iteration
  • custom physical/mechanical integration
  • rocket powered station keeping

Reusable. Repeatable. Precise.

Masten Space Systems reusable launch vehicles are low-altitude, rocket-powered, autonomous Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTVL) testbeds.

Our approach to flight operations is rapid iteration and same day turnaround. We quickly test, evaluate, pivot, and test again.

Leveraging Masten’s vehicles and platform, engineers are able to safely and accurately test their developing space systems in a relevant operational environment before it gets to the Moon, Mars, or anywhere else in the solar system.

See also:
http://masten.aero/
https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/

NSRC Day 3 Summary

Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)
Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems’ Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.

Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets.
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