NASA's Mighty Eagle lander prototype aces an 100-foot free flying test flight on Sept. 5, 2012, at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Overcast skies didn't deter the "Mighty Eagle," flying high above the historic F-1 test stand - formerly used to test turbopumps for Saturn first stage engines.
An excited crowd clapsAn excited crowd claps and cheers as the "Mighty Eagle" planetary lander prototype lands after a successful, 100-foot test Sept. 5, 2012. and cheers as the "Mighty Eagle" lands after a successful, 100-foot test Sept. 5, 2012.
Engineers on the "Mighty Eagle" project evaluate flight data after the successful 100-foot test of the vehicle Aug. 28. In the back, from left, are Adam Lacock, flight manager, and Logan Kennedy, lead systems engineer. From left at the table are Josh Eliser, flight software engineer; Dan Gunter, flight operations engineer; and Jake Parton, test conductor on the flight. The image was taken Aug. 28, 2012.
The "Mighty Eagle" soars above the tree line. The vehicle was "open loop" -- navigating autonomously without the command of the onboard camera and flying on a preprogrammed flight profile. This image was taken Aug. 28, 2012
An infrared view of the "Mighty Eagle" taking off from the pad. The image was taken Aug. 28, 2012
NASA engineers successfully integrated and completed system testing on a new robotic lander recently at Teledyne Brown Engineering’s facility in Huntsville in support of the Robotic Lunar Lander Project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. This image was taken Nov. 3, 2011.
NASA's "Mighty Eagle" soars during its successful first untethered flight on Aug. 8, 2012 at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,Ala.
Marshall Center engineers Logan Kennedy, right, and Adam Lacock check out the lander prototype, dubbed the "Mighty Eagle." This image was taken Aug. 13, 2012.
The "Mighty Eagle" robotic prototype lander is now being tested near Marshall's historic Saturn-IC Static and F-1 test stands. This image was taken Aug. 13, 2012
NASA's robotic lander prototype hovers autonomously during the second free-flight test at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. This image was taken June 21, 2011
The robotic lander prototype's propulsion system, shown during a hot-fire test. This image was taken Jan. 5, 2011
During tests of the five-pound thruster, the Divert Attitude Control System thruster fired under vacuum conditions to simulate operation in a space environment. The tests mimicked the lander mission profile and operation scenarios. This image was taken Oct. 7, 2011.
The robotic lander during strapdown testing. This phase of tests allows the engineering team to fully check out the integrated lander prototype before moving to more complex free flight tests. Thsi image was taken March 3, 2011.
NASA Marshall engineer Josh Moore and Teledyne Brown Engineering avionics engineer Scott Gilley prepare the robotic lander prototype for tests at the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal Test Center in Huntsville. This image was taken March 3, 2011.