Moon Express Software Controls NASA’s “Mighty Eagle” Prototype Lunar Lander in Closed Loop Free Flight Test
Moon Express, a commercial lunar enterprise, announces a successful free flight test of its lunar lander software on NASA’s “Mighty Eagle” prototype robotic lander. The “closed loop” free flight test conducted yesterday was the latest in a series of progressive tests of the company’s flight software being conducted in collaboration with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. The collaboration is helping Moon Express develop its commercial lunar landers for low-cost robotic missions to the Moon beginning in 2015.
“Today’s successful free flight test on the NASA Mighty Eagle brings us closer to the Moon,” said Moon Express co-founder & CEO, Bob Richards. “We thank NASA and the Mighty Eagle team for their support and collaboration as we advance our capabilities in lander technology.”
Under the terms of a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement signed with Moon Express, NASA Marshall is providing its “Mighty Eagle” lander test vehicle and engineering team in support of a series of test flights to help validate the company’s Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) flight software. Guidance algorithms developed by Moon Express were integrated into the existing Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) Software on-board the Mighty Eagle and used to perform a flight test series. In return, Moon Express is reimbursing NASA Marshall Space Flight Center for the cost of providing the test vehicle and technical support.
“We are really excited to conclude this test series with such a great flight,” said Jason Adam, flight manager for the Mighty Eagle at the Marshall Center. “Working with Moon Express to help test their new software is a great example of the types of partnerships NASA is looking to build. By utilizing agency resources and expertise, we can gather data that can also help advance the commercial sector.”
Moon Express is a leading contender in the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE and is headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Park in Silicon Valley with a Propulsion Development Facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The company has been collaborating with NASA for lunar lander development since 2010 when it established a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA Ames, providing Moon Express access to test facilities and NASA’s innovative Common Spacecraft Bus designs currently being flight proven within the LADEE lunar orbiter spacecraft on its way to the Moon.
For more information about NASA, visit: www.nasa.gov / @NASAMightyEagle