Lander Simulation Testing Helps Advance NASA Navigation Spinoff
A navigation doppler lidar (NDL) technology originally developed by NASA was demonstrated on a flight test on September 10 with support from the Flight Opportunities Program, part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. With roots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, the technology was licensed in 2016 by Psionic for both terrestrial and space applications, and both the company and Langley continue to evolve and advance the innovation for upcoming lunar missions.
On the recent flight in Mojave, California, Masten Space Systems flew Psionic’s NDL payload on a vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) system called Xodiac, which simulates some of the maneuvers of a lunar lander. Designed for precision landing in a very tightly defined area—often called the landing ellipse—the NDL transmits laser beams to the ground that bounce back to a sensor, providing information about the lander’s velocity and distance relative to the ground.
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