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Exploration Capabilities

Morpheus Vertical Test Bed (VTB)/Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The AES Morpheus Vertical Test Bed (VTB)/Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) project provided an advanced, reusable, integrated vertical test bed (VTB) platform for developing and maturing multiple human exploration subsystem technologies in a flight-like dynamic environment, including precision landing and hazard avoidance; Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C); advanced LOx-Methane propulsion; and other lander technologies.


The Morpheus VTB/ALHAT project free flew a reusable Morpheus VTB with the integrated ALHAT system starting from a slant range of approximately 500 m to the landing target at the KSC Shuttle Landing Field (SLF), ascended to about 250 m and descended to a safe landing site, and demonstrated an autonomous closed-loop landing. This flight demonstrated real-time hazard detection and hazard avoidance, followed by a divert maneuver to the determined safe landing aim point, and a safe, controlled landing within a hazard field. This demonstration flight was a culmination of a series of earlier test flights, starting with improvements to the LOx-Methane propulsion system, GPS navigation, integrated reaction control system, and incrementally increasing in complexity by incorporating ALHAT sensor data.  The project yielded not just technologies, but technologies integrated as capabilities that can then be easily adapted to human spaceflight mission architectures.

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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