Morpheus Aborts, Then Recovers For a Second Go In Tether Test

by Elizabeth Howell on June 19, 2013

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The above video should satisfy your daily need for rocket foom. Morpheus — a NASA testbed for vertical landing systems — did two firing tests this week that produced a fair amount of the usual fire and smoke, as you can see above.

You’ll actually see two separate firings in that video. In the first one, the lander strayed out of its safety zone and did a soft abort. The second test, NASA stated, “was a complete success.”

The first lander of the program crashed and burned in a test failure in August 2012, but officials recently praised the program for the progress it has made since then.

“Although a hardware failure led to the loss of the original vehicle last August, the failure and our internal investigation gave us valuable insight into areas that needed improvement,” a Project Morpheus blog post from May stated.

Morpheus during an April 2012 test. Credit: Joe Bibby

Morpheus during an April 2012 test. Credit: Joe Bibby

“The vehicle may look largely the same as the previous version, but there are numerous changes that have been incorporated. ¬†We have now implemented 70 different upgrades to the vehicle and ground systems to both address potential contributors to the test failure, and also to improve operability and maintainability.”

In the long run, NASA aims to use Morpheus as a “vertical test bed” for environmentally friendly propellants, as well as for automatic advances in landing and hazard detection.

The vehicle is advertised as big enough to land 1,100 pounds of cargo on the moon if it was placed nearby.

Check out more information about the program at the Project Morpheus website.


Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

CJSF June 19, 2013 at 4:31 PM

“The vehicle is advertised as big enough to land 1,100 pounds of cargo on the moon if it was placed nearby.”

What does that mean, exactly? If what was placed nearby to what?

Patrick Ahles June 19, 2013 at 6:52 PM

the moon.

Daniel June 19, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I’d rather give this contract to SpaceX. Would be cool to see what they could come up with for a moon lander.

Their grasshopper falcon recovery program is looking great, without a tether!

Aqua4U June 20, 2013 at 1:02 AM

This vehicle uses liquid oxygen and methane for fuel, both of which are ‘fairly easy’ to produce on earth and may also potentially be extracted on some of the outer planets.

andyturner June 20, 2013 at 3:54 AM

lol crap, Elon don’t need no sissy tether

krenshala June 24, 2013 at 1:49 AM

That looks quite a bit like the landers Armadillo has been working on. Guess I should check their page again since its been awhile since my last look for updates.

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