HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – NASA engineers and their partners from the Silicon Valley company Moon Express flew the space agency’s Mighty Eagle robotic lander over a test area on Redstone Arsenal Monday. It was the last test in Alabama of guidance and control systems Moon Express will use on unmanned moon landers, including one that will take a telescope to the lunar surface in 2015.
“Today’s successful free flight test on the NASA Mighty
Eagle brings us closer to the moon,” Bob Richards, Moon Express
co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a NASA news release after the test. “We thank NASA and the Mighty
Eagle team for their support and collaboration as we advance our capabilities
in lander technology.”
Moon Express, which has Huntsville propulsion expert Tim Pickens on its executive team, is developing relatively inexpensive landers that can take payloads like the telescope to the lunar surface. Marshall Space Flight Center engineers built Mighty Eagle to develop robotic lander capabilities for the agency and its commercial partners. Marshall flight manager Jason Adams called Monday’s flight “great.”
Under the agreement, in which Moon Express paid NASA for flight time and expertise, Mighty Eagle was used to test guidance and control software in a series of increasingly complicated flights. The accompanying video shows an earlier September flight in the test series.