Moon Express Conducts Successful Lander GNC Free Flight Test with NASA Mighty Eagle


MoonEx Mighty Eagle Free Flight 1In another small but important step in a very long journey, Moon Express conducted its first closed loop free flight guidance, navigation and control (GNC) software test today with the 

help of NASA and its “Mighty Eagle” lunar lander prototype at the Marshall Space Flight Center. This was the first time that the Moon 

Express GNC software has flown in closed loop free flight untethered mode, evolving our capabilities following our successful closed loop tethered test on Nov 14th.

Dealing with cold temperatures and deteriorating weather conditions, the NASA Mighty Eagle team moved rapidly through a series of hardware tweaks that allowed us to fly the final flight in our series, testing and validating our spacecraft control software in a brief but very solid hover test at the planned ~10’ altitude.

Pictured here are successive photos of today’s test, beginning with Mighty Eagle’s signature beat-box “burp sequence” initializing the MoonEx Mighty Eagle Free Flight 3hydrogen peroxide propulsion system, hovering solidly with minimal drift, and ending with a controlled soft landing with a lunar-like hover and descent profile.

The video below shows the whole flight sequence in a continuous shot.

Our collaboration with NASA has been exceptionally helpful, and our friends at Marshall Space Flight Center shared our enthusiasm today for an important step forward in our commercial lunar plans, calling it “a smooth, beautiful untethered flight”.

The free flight today was a very satisfying and successful conclusion to our test series with NASA on the Mighty Eagle. We have learned much and forged strong bonds of friendship and collaboration with the Mighty Eagle team, who amaze us with their professionalism, passion and dedication. We have always felt like welcome guests on the Mighty Eagle program, and our appreciation of NASA goes wide but in particular we thank NASA for their openness to moving forward a new paradigm of private sector collaboration in exploration systems with Moon Express.

After a well-earned Thanksgiving holiday, the NASA and Moon Express engineering teams will assess the flight data, iterate plans for advancement and look to new ways of continuing a successful collaboration in reaching for the Moon.

Well done everyone, with special thanks to Jason Adams and the whole NASA Mighty Eagle team at MSFC, and our own GNC Jedi Jim Kaidy, and software engineer superstar Mike Stewart, who worked so hard toward today.

~ Bob 


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