The robotic lander prototype's propulsion system, shown during a hot-fire test, consists of 12 small attitude control thrusters, three primary descent thrusters to control the vehicleâ€™s altitude, and one large â€œgravity-cancelingâ€ thruster which offsets a portion of the prototypeâ€™s weight to simulate a lower gravity environment, like that of the moon and asteroids. (Photo Credit: Dynetics Corp.)
NASA PROGRAM UPDATE
NASA’s Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has completed a series of hot fire tests and taken delivery of a new propulsion system for integration into a more sophisticated free-flying autonomous robotic lander prototype. The project is partnered with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers to achieve scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon and near-Earth asteroids.