Jeff Bezos' rocket company, Blue Origin, is about to launch a rocket into space to test NASA's new moon-landing technologies
The New Shepard Booster lands after the vehicle's fifth flight on May 2, 2019. Blue Origin
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' rocket company, is launching a test flight to try out new lunar landing technologies for NASA.
NASA developed high-precision sensors, software and a new computer that can help spaceships land in rocky or shady areas of the moon or Mars.
Blue Origin paid $ 3 million to test these new technologies.
If they work as planned, the landing systems should bring the company's New Shepard missile safely back to Earth Tuesday.
You can watch the 12-minute take-off and landing live.
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Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin is preparing to launch a range of new high-precision lunar landing technologies for NASA and test their skills with a touchdown on Earth.
The company's New Shepard missile is scheduled to take off from a launch pad in West Texas at 8:35 a.m. (CDT) Tuesday. From there, it was supposed to shoot 62 miles into the air and reach the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space to briefly expose NASA hardware to the space environment. The missile will also release a capsule of cargo to other companies and then return to Earth.
The New Shepard Booster will land on December 11, 2019 after the sixth flight in a row. Blue Origin
If NASA's sensor systems, computer, and software work as planned, they should safely land the rocket 12 minutes after launch.
NASA hopes one day to be able to use the new landing systems it is testing to send human missions to the moon, establish a permanent base there, and ultimately land astronauts in the treacherous Martian landscape.
The larger system is called SPLICE and stands for Safe and Precise Landing - Integrated Capabilities Evolution. It should help future lunar missions land more accurately and safely - no pilot required. It could even enable future spacecraft to land in rocky fields or shady craters that were previously considered too dangerous to land safely. This ability would open up miles of the lunar surface along with areas on other planets like Mars.
An example of lunar landing hardware for NASA's Artemis program designed by the national team: a Blue Origin-led business collaboration between Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.
"Testing SPLICE technologies on a suborbital rocket extends the scope beyond previous laboratory tests, helicopter field tests and lower altitude suborbital rocket tests," said John Carson, who works on precision landing technology at NASA's Johnson Space Center, in a September press release.
The test flight was originally scheduled for September 24th but was scrubbed by Blue Origin citing a power issue. The company also canceled its scheduled second attempt the following day, saying it had to "review a solution to a technical problem".
This is the first of two flight tests Blue Origin will conduct as part of NASA's Tipping Point program, which has given six privately owned companies a total of $ 44 million to bring next-generation technology across the finish line. Blue Origin received $ 3 million for the project that led to test launch on Tuesday. The company also received $ 10 million to test a propulsion system that uses ultra-cold liquid fuel to land a robot on the moon.
New sensors and computers react to the moon's terrain
NASA's SPLICE descent and landing computer (foreground) is being prepared for a flight test. Blue origin
The Blue Origin flight only tests a few elements of the SPLICE technology suite: two sensor systems, landing algorithms and a new computer.
The first set of sensors is designed to help spacecraft navigate the terrain in which they might land. The system could allow a lunar lander to determine its exact location by comparing real-time data from its camera with a set of surface maps that were pre-uploaded to the computer.
The other sensor system, a Doppler lidar, is used to beam lasers onto the surface of a planet and to calculate the landing speed and altitude of the spacecraft based on the returning reflections. This system is scheduled to fly on two commercial lunar robot missions in 2021, including the lander that will bring NASA's new rover to the moon - the first such landing since the Apollo program ended in 1972.
An illustration shows Astrobotics Griffin Moon Lander installing a ramp on the lunar surface. Astrobot
NASA designed the new technologies to work together or separately, allowing the agency to choose the elements needed for specific missions. The Blue Origin flight tests how the elements work together in a new spaceship.
"The sensor data is all processed through the descent and landing computer," said Carson. "Lots of other software programs are running in the background, integrating the various systems, figuring out what to do next, and synchronizing the timing with the Blue Origin flight computer for this test. This is critical for the system to run autonomously and us is available with data that we can analyze after the flight. "
NASA plans to test a third sensor system in future tests that will scan the surface of a planet to identify hazards and select safer landing sites.
Here is Blue Origin's live feed of the test flight, broadcast 30 minutes before take-off:
NASA will also broadcast the event live:
Dave Mosher contributed to the coverage.
Read the original article on Business Insider
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