Morpheus future of NASA?

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - Designed, developed and built at Johnson Space Center in Texas, NASA's Morpheus Lander has found its way to Kennedy Space Center.

Morpheus made its third free flight Thursday at the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility at the KSC.

One day later, Local 6 got an up-close view of the flight vehicle at its hanger and found out what project managers plan to accomplish while testing the $12.5 million project at KSC.

"We're advancing technologies, a liquid/oxygen methane propulsion system, as well as, an autonomous hazard avoidance," said project manager Jon Olansen.

"Basically, it enables us to fly the vehicle autonomously and have the vehicle itself determine where it is safe to land then redirect itself to land there."

NASA's goal with Morpheus is to demonstrate landing technologies to possibly bring on to planetary missions in the future and ultimately, human ones as well.

At KSC, the Lander has been testing on a hazard field where space shuttles used to land when the program was running. The rocky, space-like field simulates what the surface would be like on the southern region of the moon.

"If you're flying a spacecraft into a planetary surface, this is the type of scene it may see and this is how it might operate in order to make sure it lands safely when you don't have any human or anyone on-board trying to fly it," said Olansen.

Morpheus is scheduled to make another free flight test Tuesday and Olansen hopes to complete testing by April.

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