A year after NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s landed on Mars, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are testing a sophisticated flight-control algorithm that could allow for even more precise, pinpoint landings of future Martian spacecraf
Flight testing of the new Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance algorithm — G-FOLD for short — for planetary pinpoint landing is being conducted jointly by JPL engineers in cooperation with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif., using Masten’s XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing experimental rocket.
NASA’s house Technology Mission board of directors is facilitating the tests via its Game-Changing Development and Flight Opportunities Programs; the latter managed at NASA’s John Dryden Flight centre at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. the 2 house technology programs work along to check game-changing technologies by taking advantage of Flight Opportunities’ commercially provided suborbital platforms and flights.
“The Flight Opportunities Program supports each the event of innovative house technology and therefore the rising suborbital trade by victimization business suborbital vehicles to check ideas that would any mankind’s exploration and understanding of the universe,” aforesaid Saint Christopher Baker, a campaign manager for the program. “The collaboration between JPL and Masten to check G-FOLD could be a nice example of however we tend to hope to any the exploration of the scheme whereas increase the economic base required to advance future house endeavors.”
Current powered-descent steering algorithms used for orbiter landings area unit familial from the Greek deity era. These algorithms don’t optimize fuel usage and considerably limit however so much the craft may be amused throughout descent. The new G-FOLD rule fabricated by JPL autonomously generates fuel-optimal landing trajectories in real time and provides a key new technology needed for planetary pinpoint landing. Pinpoint landing capability can enable robotic missions to access presently inaccessible science targets. For crewed missions, it’ll enable inflated preciseness with stripped fuel needs to modify landing larger payloads in shut proximity to preset targets.