Saturday, October 8, 2011

Moon Express Radar Altimeter Airship Flight Test at OSH

Moon Express, one of the entrants in the Google Lunar X-Prize, used Eureka twice from April to July to flight test a radar altimeter they are working on.

Internally, we nicknamed the test platform the "cow bells", but that playful name doesn't do justice to the serious part it will play in their quest to reach the moon.

"Radar provides autonomous landing spacecraft with crucial ranging information to the surface and has been one of the most challenging and high risk elements of all lander systems. Radar systems have also been historically very expensive in terms of dollars, mass and energy. As part of its risk reduction engineering activities, Moon Express initiated a program to continue the development, test and space qualification of an innovative, low cost, low mass, low energy radar concept invented by Stellar Exploration that showed great promise through progressive developments under NASA Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) programs. The Moon Express investment significantly advanced the radar technology toward spaceflight readiness." -- Moon Express

Watch their latest video on the project , and see how they took advantage of our appearance at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, to complete testing of the project.

Our flight schedule posed some challenges, in that they had to get their monitoring equipment small enough to be carried during our normal operations. However it also presented opportunity in that they were able to check the data between each flight during the passenger exchange, refine their algorithms with the data from the previous flight, and upload new code!

Now that is what I call iterative programming!

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