News from Masten Space Systems

Published on Jul 26, 2012 by mastenspace

We’re excited to release this footage of Masten’s July 25, 2012 Mars landing trajectory test flight on Xombie. The flight reached 476.5 meters in altitude and translated 500 meters downrange. The test was carried out for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)** to test the powered descent and landing trajectory optimization algorithms for future Mars Entry Descent & Landing (EDL) applications. It is the first EDL style trajectory carried out on a terrestrial vertical takeoff and vertical landing testbed. Masten’s native Guidance, Navigation & Control system controlled Xombie as it followed the JPL-provided Mars landing trajectory.

What happened at the end? After successful completion of the trajectory, we lost visual contact when a large dust plume obstructed the landing site camera’s view and thought the vehicle had already landed. In accordance with Masten safety procedures, we turned the engine off. Turns out we were a couple feet off the deck. Don’t worry though, Xombie is currently standing up in the shop and won’t miss her next scheduled flight.

**Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a division of the California Institute of Technology.