Astrobotic Autolanding System Completes Open-Loop Flight on Masten Aerospace Suborbital Rocket

Astrobotic Technology announced today that its autonomous landing technology, the Astrobotic Autolanding System (AAS), performed successfully throughout an open-loop flight campaign on the Masten Aerospace Xombie, a vertical-takeoff vertical-landing suborbital rocket. Testing was conducted at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA in February 2014. The test was made possible through funding by the NASA Flight Opportunities Program, which is managed by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center.

The AAS provides precise real-time location updates for spacecraft through visual navigation and automatically avoids hazards during landing on unknown terrain. The landing sensor uses two cameras, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), and a scanning laser. "The pair of cameras work together like human eyes to measure distance and track motion. The scanning laser gives precise distance measurements and enables us to pick out hazards as small as a curb. The AAS landing sensor combines these sensors with an IMU - the device that enables airplane autopilots to determine direction to the ground - to build its models," explained Kevin Peterson, Astrobotic's Chief Technology Officer.

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