COBALT Flight Demonstrations Fuse Technologies

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[ Music ]>>The technologies that COBALT
is testing right now will one day enable NASA to send robotic
or human space flight missions to land on Mars, the moon, Europa or other solar system
destinations where we want to target landing in very
hazardous or precise regions such as canyons, craters,
on cracked ice fields, close to geysers
or other geological or scientifically
interesting locations. [ Music ] So COBALT stands for
Cooperative Blending of Autonomous Landing
Technologies. The project is focused
on integrating and testing two complementary
sensors or instruments; one the Lander Vision
System, LVS, and the other the
Navigation Doppler Lidar, NDL. [ Music ]>>And the way it works it
actually uses its camera to take images as
it’s coming in to land and compares them
to its onboard map. And by doing that you can
actually now determine where you are on the map of
where you’re trying to land. So that allows you to
do a number of things. One, it allows you to actually
more precisely determine your actual position coming
into landing, and then you can actually
do diverts to actually land where you want to land. It also allows you to detect
and notice things like hazards and actually divert around those
hazards as you come into land.>>Laser coming on.>>And give the spacecraft
essentially a set of eyes, so as it’s coming in to land
it’s actually enabling its process in its computer to
see where it’s actually going.>>Lasers on.>>We’ll be conducting two
different flight campaigns within COBALT. One is open loop and the
other is closed loop, the difference being that during
open loop the vehicle is not utilizing COBALT’s navigation
for planning its maneuvers. It’s instead utilizing GPS. During the closed loop campaign, the vehicle will actually
rely on COBALT navigation.>>Ok, team moving
to engine start page.>>COBALT! This is LC. Go/no-go for flight?>>Go.>>Pilot prime engine.>>Priming engine. [ Music ]>>Ok, team, here we go. Masten ops to all,
six-second countdown. Five, four, three, two, one. Ignition. [ Music ]>>During our flight testing,
we take off at one location and then we target a landing
site that’s 300 meters away. On takeoff, we ascend up
to a 500-meter altitude. During that time, our Navigation
Doppler Lidar begins sensing velocity and range within the
first five meters of altitude. The Lander Vision System
begins performing train row to navigation at about 50
to 100 meters altitude. So during the ascent, we’re
getting initial measurements and starting to generate the
COBALT navigation solution. After we reach the
500-meter altitude, the vehicle reduces the engine
throttle, the engine thrust, and starts falling back towards
the Earth to build up velocity. Once we hit a 25 meter per
second downward velocity, the executed divert maneuver that targets specified landing
location 300 meters down range. The vehicle then navigates
until about a 20-meter altitude above that landing site, and then executes a vertical
descent to touchdown. This is all autonomous on
Masten’s GPS-based navigation for open loop and then
during closed loop on COBALT’s navigation. [ Music ]>>Booyah!>>Alright!>>Yeah! [ Talking at once ] [ Applause ]>>Well done, sir. Well done.>>So Masten is out here
at the Mojave Space Port. We’re supporting NASA’s
[inaudible] opportunities by testing different
technologies here in the desert that are hopefully land
on another planet one day. So when you have your payload
and it’s going to go land on Mars, it’s really nice to
know how it’s going to function in that landing environment. Propulsive landing specifically
was something we have not done on another planet yet. So instead of taking the risk
of sending something all the way to Mars and not knowing how well
it works, we can come out here in the desert, plot
opportunities, provides the payload with the
ability to come onto our rockets and do a similar type profile to what they will see
when they go to land.>>Alright, guys! Great job today! [ Applause ]>>Great flight!>>Let’s take it home!

 

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