On Friday the Project Morpheus Vertical Takeoff and Landing rocket vehicle flew another tethered test , this time with a short horizontal translation included:
The Morpheus/ALHAT team successfully completed TT27 with ALHAT on board Morpheus’ Bravo vehicle, meeting all test objectives including ALHAT tracking & imaging and Bravo lateral translation and long duration flight. We’ve offloaded propellants and are purging the tanks. Initial indications are that ALHAT and Bravo systems performed nominally, with one exception…
Telemetry data froze on MCC screens during the flight and returned immediately after the flight with no apparent dropouts, presumably buffered onboard the vehicle. The MCC maintained radio contact with the vehicle (and Thrust Termination System (TTS) throughout the flight, suggesting a temporary onboard data buffering issue rather than a comm issue. The MCC also maintained video and direct visual observation of the vehicle throughout the flight, saw no evidence of loss of control or deviation from the planned trajectory, and allowed it to complete its full ~80 second flight profile. (The 1st hover duration was reduced by 10 sec, reducing the overall flight time by the same amount, in order to maintain safety reserves with the actual pre-ignition propellant load.) Though not a flight risk to a fully autonomous vehicle, the telemetry data buffering issue between the vehicle and the MCC will be investigated and fixed by the Morpheus team. The experienced Morpheus/ALHAT ops team maintained steady, steely-eyed focus throughout the loss of telemetry data, enabling successful completion of TT27.
The Morpheus/ALHAT team will spend the next few days de-integrating ALHAT from the Bravo vehicle in B.220 in preparation for shipping ALHAT to KSC for Free Flight testing later this summer and fall. With ALHAT mass simulators instead of laser sensors atop Bravo, the Morpheus team plans to conduct TT28 next week and a couple more JSC tests after that before packing up and shipping Bravo off to KSC in late August. We’re marching inexorably toward flying free at KSC.