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NASA to Test Sensors for Precision Moon Landings on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
June 3, 2019
Filed under , , , ,

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

NASA Contract Award
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, Virginia

Blue Origin, LLC
Kent, Washington
Amount: $1,301,743


The work will include the integration of NASA developed technology into Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle, providing opportunities to mature critical sensor technology and algorithms that enable precision and soft landing. Testing will be performed at approximately 100 km altitude on-board the flight proven New Shepard vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) suborbital vehicle.

Blue Origin and NASA will use the flight data to anchor analyses and models and support follow-on ground-based algorithm testing and development. The NASA-developed sensor suite will enable Blue Moon to precisely land anywhere on the lunar surface, from the equator to the poles, from the rim of Shackleton crater to permanently shadowed regions, from the far side locations on the South Pole/Aitken basin to lunar lava tubes.

This contract addresses three high-level technology objectives:

1. Demonstrate the performance of NASA-developed precision landing sensor and processing technology (including, but not limited to, Descent Landing Computer (DLC), Navigation Doppler Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR, NDL) and Landing Vision System (LVS) in an operating envelope (altitude, velocity, and vehicle environments) from space environments through soft propulsive landing operations on a commercial vehicle (the New Shepard Propulsion Module).

2. Demonstrate a commercial guidance and navigation system for safe and accurate lunar landings using NASA-developed Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) and Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA) algorithms as part of a Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulation environment.

3. Develop and demonstrate a Flash LiDAR (FL) prototype for hazard detection derived from NASA-developed Flash LiDAR sensor design.

9 responses to “NASA to Test Sensors for Precision Moon Landings on Blue Origin’s New Shepard”

  1. Robert G. Oler says:

    this is fascinating to me…on so many levels…not the least of which is that on a large level I think that administrations effort to return to the moon is floundering (like the administration itself) but on the other smaller level, some core technologies and systems are being established.

    its all rather fascinating on a sleepy day here in Yeslikoy where I am catching up on the news, working on some projects and having a great day relaxing

    • Saturn1300 says:

      Trump is just digging a deeper hole. His approval rating is lowest ever. Even people killed in his home state by a gun man does not cause him to go to total gun control using his emergency powers. Which he uses on Mexicans because he seems to hate them. And Americans by putting 25% tariffs on foreign cars. He seems to want everyone to get mad at him. He is courting the sympathy vote and Democrats will not do there duty under the Constitution and impeach him. Because they are afraid of the sympathy vote. If the Democrats do not want to do their duty under the Constitution they should resign. They should have impeached him for what he did before he became president on the same day they were sworn in. He is the worse president ever. He is too dumb to be president. He cheated contractors and students before he became president and should be thrown out for that reason alone. He is just not qualified to be President of The USA. Nixon said he was not a crook. Can anyone say Trump is or was not a crook with a straight face?

    • duheagle says:

      The Trump adminstration’s Artemis program to return to the Moon is not “floundering,” it has simply run into the partisan and pork-uber-alles headwinds everyone knew were there. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Predictable and temporary setbacks are hardly fatal.

  2. delphinus100 says:

    I keep telling critics that say things to the effect of ‘it’s only a suborbital toy’ that every New Shepard flight gives Blue Origin more experience in vertical landings that lends itself to later hardware, such as the New Glenn first stage, and for landing on places other than Earth.

    It’s Blue’s equivalent of Grasshopper/F9r that might also make money itself…

  3. Saturn1300 says:

    Good Idea.

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