Status Report

NASA JSC Project Morpheus Update

By SpaceRef Editor
April 8, 2011
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Internal NASA memo: “Out in the open field at the new Morpheus launch pad. West of JSC Building 14. If all goes well and there is no Govt. shutdown, the series of test firings may begin sometime Monday.

The rocket engine burns methane and oxygen and is pressurized with helium. Note the ground restraint straps to keep it from “wandering.” This constraint is necessary since there is no active flight control system installed yet. There is ES Div. engineering support to this program, but very little publicity.

There will be five hot firings in a row–all in the same day. They will be loud. The thrust profiles are square-wave type pulses, with ramp-ups and ramp-downs, and other transients. This is why ES6 has developed some dynamic response models since the thrust transients have the potential to amplify dynamic motions, induce loads in the anchored ground restraint straps beyond their preload, induce dynamic loads onto the crane, etc. We also want to avoid loss of tension in any strap.

After these tests, and if they are successful, an active flight control system will be installed and more firings will occur later this year. It will land and guide itself.”

More photos

SpaceRef staff editor.