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NASA Project Seeks to Demo GN&C Tech for Space Exploration

NASA‘s human exploration and operations mission directorate will launch a flight campaign that seeks to demonstrate guidance, navigation and control technologies designed to facilitate precision landing for space exploration missions.

NASA said Saturday it will test the Navigation Doppler Lidar and the Lander Vision System through April as part of the Co-Operative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies project.

Both the NDL, which offers velocity and line-of-sight range measurements, and the LVS, which provides terrain relative navigation capacity, will be integrated and flight tested on a Masten Space Systems-built rocket-powered vertical take-off and landing system called Xodiac.

COBALT launches will help demonstrate combined LVS and NDL measurement capacities as part of NASA’s efforts to develop precise soft-landing technologies for future missions.

“In this first flight campaign, we plan to successfully complete the integration, flight testing and performance analysis of the COBALT payload,” said John Carson III, project manager of COBALT.

NASA also seeks to demonstrate COBALT as an active navigation system for Xodiac through a follow-up flight campaign in the summer.

NASA’s Langley Research Center developed the NDL as an updated prototype of the former Autonomous Precision Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology used on the Morpheus vessel.

The space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created the LVS as a camera-based navigation system designed to capture images of the terrain beneath a spacecraft and cross-examine recorded data with maps to pinpoint the vehicle’s location.

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