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|Dry mass||1000 kg|||
|Propellant mass||2900 kg|||
|Propellant tanks||4 off|||
|Specific Impulse||321 s|||
|Maximum burn (tested)||123 s|||
|Fuel mixture ratio||(TBD)||-|
|Maximum service life||(TBD)||-|
Morpheus#1 is being used as an Earth based vertical test bed vehicle demonstrating new green propellant propulsion systems and autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. The prototype lander was manufactured and assembled at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Armadillo Aerospace's facility near Dallas. The prototype lander is a "spacecraft" that is about 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter, weighs approximately 2,300 pounds (1,000 kg) and consists of four silver spherical propellant tanks topped by avionics boxes and a web of wires.
The project is trying out cost and time saving “lean development” engineering practices. Other project activities include appropriate ground operations, flight operations, range safety and the instigation of software development procedures. Landing pads and control centers were also constructed. Less than $7 million has been spent on materials over the 2.5 years; the Morpheus project is considered lean and low-cost for NASA. In 2012 the project employed 25 full-time team members and 60 students.:p. 18
The primary focus of the Morpheus vehicle was to demonstrate:
- the integrated system performance of the autonomous Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) system,
- terrain hazard avoidance sensors,
- the coupled of the sensors with the GN&C,
- the utilization of a quad configuration liquid oxygen and liquid methane propulsion system.[Note a]
Project Morpheus started in July 2010 and was named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. The Morpheus spacecraft was derived from the experimental lander produced by Project M with the assistance of Armadillo Aerospace. Project M (NASA) was a NASA initiative to land a humanoid robot on the lunar surface in 1000 days. Work on some of the landers systems began in 2006, when NASA’s Constellation program planned a human return to the moon.
The Morpheus #1 Unit A test vehicle was first hot-fired 15 April 2011.
Morpheus's new 4,200 pounds-force (19,000 N) engine permitted NASA to design a larger vehicle than its parent (a NASA assembled copy of Armadillo Aerospace's Pixel). The engine was upgraded again to 5,000 pounds-force (22,000 N) in 2013. A new design of landing gear was part of the Mechanical changes. NASA also replaced the avionics - this included power distribution and storage, instrumentation, the flight computer, communications and software. The enhanced landing system permits Morpheus, unlike the Pixels, to land without help from a pilot.
For Range Safety purposes the Morpheus#1 prototype fall into the category of guided suborbital reusable rocket.:p. 11
As of April 2011 NASA is planning a third of 4 prototype vehicles. The third vehicle will have enhanced capability and space rated hardware.
On August 9, 2012 the prototype Morpheus #1 Unit A lander crashed on take off, whilst performing its first untethered flight at Kennedy Space Center. No one was injured and no property was damaged but the vehicle was damaged beyond repair. The project investigated the cause and continued using unit B.
Autumn 2012 the Project Morpheus and ALHAT teams were combined.
On February 7, 2013 the Project Morpheus team blogged that they have built the Morpheus 1.5B and 1.5C vehicles. The vehicles are due to undergo a series of static hot fire and dynamic tethered flight tests at Johnson Space Center spring 2013 in preparation for a return to free-flight testing at Kennedy Space Center in the summer.
On May 1, 2013 the replacement Morpheus #1.5 Unit B testbed was Hot Fired at the Johnson Space Center.
Hardware Specifications 
The Project Morpheus vehicle 'Morpheus' is a full scale vehicle that NASA intends to be capable of landing Robonaut or a similar sized payload to the lunar surface. The spacecraft will perform all propellant burns after the trans lunar injection. 
Navigation is completely autonomous from Lunar Orbit to touchdown. Navigation updates come from TRN Laser altimetry and star trackers after deorbit burn. Deep space navigation relies on radiometric and star trackers.
To save money and time the prototype Morpheus landers are "single-string" prototypes, this means that unlike a spacecraft rated for actual space flight they do not have redundant systems. The exceptions are stated below.
- Engine burns the environmentally green propellants methane and oxygen, pressurized by helium
- The Morpheus HD5 engine produces 4,200 pounds-force (19,000 N) thrust compatible with the Altair ascent stage (Later up graded for Units B and C, see below)
- The engine has a maximum specific impulse (Isp) during space flight of 321 seconds.
- The engine is gimballed by two orthogonal electromechanical actuators (EMAs) to provide thrust vector control of lateral translation, and pitch and yaw attitudes.
- Has four 48 inches (1,200 mm) diameter tanks, 2 for liquid methane and 2 for liquid oxygen - able to contain about 2,900 kilograms (6,400 lb) of propellant
- (Disputed). According to 'Florida Today' the approximate dry mass is 2,300 pounds (1,000 kg), where as the 'Daily Mail' reports the approximate dry mass as 1,750 pounds (790 kg)
- Size about 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter.
- The Version 1.5 lander, with its HD5 engine, can land 1,100 pounds (500 kg), this includes performing all propellant burns after the trans lunar injection.
- The Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters, used to control the lander's roll, use methane from the main tanks.
- An AITech S900 CompactPCI board with a PowerPC 750 processor is used as the main computer.
- Up to 16 GB of data can be stored on board.
- Data buses include RS-422, RS-232, Ethernet and MIL-STD-1553.
- Onboard cameras.
- Telemetry is returned using the spread spectrum wireless communications.
- Electrical power is supplied by 8 lithium polymer batteries.
- GN&C sensor suite including:
- Javad Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver
- International Space Station (ISS) version of Honeywell’s Space Integrated GPS/INS (SIGI)
- Litton LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
- Acuity laser altimeter.
- Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Core Flight Software (CFS) provides the architecture for the vehicle's software.
- Each of the 4 legs has a foot pad covered with fire resistant material to soften landings.
- The standalone accelerometer units were build using the Modular Instrumentation System (MIS) designed by Johnson Space Center
Commands can be sent using separate Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios to the thrust termination system (TTS). Use of the TTS by range safety will close two motorized valves which shut off the flow of liquid oxygen and methane to the engine - thereby terminating engine thrust. These TTS valves are completely independent from the rest of the vehicle systems.
For further details see the "Morpheus: Advancing Technologies for Human Exploration" paper.
The prototype Morpheus #1 Unit B lander is using the same design as the prototype Morpheus #1.5 Unit A lander with the following changes:
- Backup systems for the Inertial Measurement Unit were added 
- 70 different upgrades to the vehicle and ground systems to both address potential contributors to the test failure, and also to improve operability and maintainability. These include:
- advanced engine performance capability,
- enhanced communication protocols,
- redundant instrumentation where appropriate,
- increased structural margins,
- and mitigated launch vibroacoustic environments.
- The upgraded Morpheus engine produces 5,000 pounds-force (22,000 N) thrust
The prototype Morpheus #1 Unit C lander is using the same design as the prototype Morpheus #1.5 Unit A lander with the following changes:
- Enhancements as Unit B above 
Project Morpheus lean development philosophy resulted in a mixture of new and previously existing software being used. Software is used in a:
- the vertical test bed (lander). The NASA-Goddard-Space-Flight-Center-developed Core Flight Software (CFS) has been enhanced with specific applications software and custom sensor and I/O applications.
- hardware development. Including using the OVERFLOW package (and wind tunnel tests).
- the ground environment including mission control. Mission Control Technologies has been used to display propellant tank pressures and other parameters during test firing.
- the ALHAT system.
- flight simulation, both offline and connected to flight hardware. Packages used include JSC Trick Simulation Environment, the JSC Engineering Orbital Dynamics (JEOD) package and the JSC generic models Valkyrie package. The parameters have been tuned to reflect the Morpheus flight hardware such as actuators and data obtained from the tethered test flights.
Test bed tests 
As of April 2011 the primary focus of the test bed is to demonstrate an integrated propulsion and GN&C system that can fly a lunar descent profile. Thereby exercising the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT), safe landing sensors and closed-loop flight control system.
Additional objectives include technology demonstrations such as tank material and manufacture, reaction control thrusters, main engine performance improvements, Helium pressurization systems, ground operations, flight operations, range safety, software and avionics architecture.
The Vertical Test Bed (VTB) Flight Complex at JSC has been successfully using the Mission Control Technologies (MCT) software written at NASA Ames to control the test flights of the Morpheus lander. Parameters displayed include propellant tank pressures.
A set of integrated vehicle test flights including hot-fire, tethered hover tests and untethered “free-flights” were devised for the Morpheus vehicle.
The testing, test results and equipment modifications performed during 2011, up to and including Tethered Test 6 (TT6), were published in the conference proceeding of the 2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference at Big Sky, MT
Videos of the test flights have been posted on the Morpheus Lander Channel on YouTube. This includes the 2012 regression test flights with the more powerful V1.5 engine whilst the lander is tethered, and the problematic early test flight that shows "This is why we test".
On May 10, 2012 the testbed passed its hover and soft abort tests, shown in video "Morpheus Tether Test 15". The lander was returned to the workshop to have the ALHAT equipment fitted. The Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters were also fitted.
Link to video of Morpheus tether test 18, a hover test at the Johnson Space Centre with the ALHAT sensors switched on.
Summer 2012 the Morpheus Lander V1.5 Unit A was transferred to the Kennedy Space Center, FL, to permit untethered flight testing. During the summer of 2012 a "hazard field" containing hazards such as rocks and craters built at the end of the Space Shuttle's runway to test that the ALHAT system can automatically navigate to a clear landing site. As can be seen in the photograph the Kennedy's wide open spaces permit the entire flight path including runway and hazard field to be surrounded by a fire break consisting of a moat filled with water. During the planned test flights the vehicle will climb as high as 1,600 feet (490 m), reach up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) and stay in the air as long as two minutes.
The 330 by 330 feet (100 by 100 m) hazard field included five potential landing pads, 311 piles of rocks and 24 craters that mimic an area on the moon’s south pole.
On July 20, 2012, the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the Morpheus test vehicle arrived at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for advanced testing. The high performance HD5 version of the Morpheus engine was performance tested at the Stennis Space Center in the summer of 2012. The testing and building of the hazard field were paid for by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Program (AES).
During Autumn 2012 and early 2013 a fourth and a fifth generation Morpheus methane/LOX rocket engine were test fired at Stennis Space Center. A successful long duration burn lasted 123 seconds. Other tests verified capabilities and throttle levels.
Fuel tanks for the lander were put through a series of inspections and tests, including checking welds for defects and cycling tank pressure to establish a minimum cycle life expectancy of the tanks. The maximum pressure capability was verified by pressurizing a sacrificial tank until it burst.
On May 1, 2013 at JSC the replacement Unit B Morpheus testbed was Hot Fired for 50 seconds whilst fully tethered. The integrated methane reaction control system (RCS) and thrust vector control (TVC) jets were fired. Many enhancements had been incorporated into the vehicle and ground systems.
On May 16, 2013 at JSC the testbed was Hot Fired whilst fastened to the ground and later tethered 3 feet (0.91 m) above the ground, followed by some RCS tests. A small leak was repaired allowing the testing of the effects of vibration to be nominal. In preparation for the tests the fire break around the test area had been paved and a mini "Frame Trench" dug.
- On June 1, 2011, a test of the Morpheus lander caused a large grass fire on the grounds of the Johnson Space Center. A minor incident: no one was injured and the Lander was fine. Subsequently a 10 feet (3.0 m) wide fire break was dug around the test area to prevent the spread of any possible grass fires.
- On August 9, 2012, the lander tipped over, crashed, caught fire, and exploded twice during its initial free-flight test at the Kennedy Space Center. The fire was extinguished after the tanks had exploded. No one was injured but the vehicle was not in a recoverable condition. Following the accident about 70 different upgrades to the vehicle design and ground systems were made including adding some redundant instrumentation and mitigating the launch vibroacoustic environment. Military-grade (expensive) cable connectors and bus couplers have been fitted to the replacement vehicles as well as creating a flame trench on the launch-pad to reduce vibration.
a. ^ Methane is a green (i.e. non-toxic) propellant that NASA hopes will reduce transportation costs by being made in space. For instance the Sabatier reaction could be used to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) found on Mars into methane, using either found or transported hydrogen, a catalyst, and a source of heat. Hydrogen can be made from water ice, which occurs on both the Earth's Moon and Mars.
See Also 
- Morpheus Lander Home page "Morpheus Lander Website". NASA. Retrieved October 25th, 2011.
- Dean, James (August 2, 2012). "Morpheus lander prototype ready for KSC tests". Florida Today. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- "webpage A Visit With Morpheus by Jim Hillhouse, April 14th, 2011". AmericaSpace.
- "Hard at Work - February 2013". Project Morpheus : Blog. NASA - Project Morpheus. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- "Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT)". NASA. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "And So We Begin Again". NASA. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- Jon B. Olansen, PhD; Stephen R. Munday; Jennifer D. Mitchell; Michael Baine, PhD (May 23–25, 2012). "Morpheus: Advancing Technologies for Human Exploration". Global Exploration Conference. GLEX-2012.05.2.4x12761.
- "Project Morpheus Facebook posts on May 16, 2013". NASA. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Moskowitz, Clara (September 14, 2012). "NASA pushes ahead with new prototype of moon lander". Space.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- "NASA Advisory Council briefing by Advanced Exploration Systems on November 15, 2012". NASA. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- "Project Morpheus Facebook information page.".
- Brandi Dean. "Project Morpheus Begins to Take Flight at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, update dated 2nd May 2011". by NASA on its NASA.GOV website.
- Young, Kelly (October 13, 2006). "Mock lunar landers to go head-to-head in X Prize Cup". New Scientist. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- "The Project Morpheus Lander JSC2011-E-032040 (14 April 2011)". NASA. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- "YouTube video from NASAExplorerSchools1 called "NASA Now Minute: Forces and Motion: Project Morpheus" released Feb 27, 2012". NASA and YouTube.
- Keith Cowing (April 20, 2011). "Morpheus Lander: Cool Stuff That JSC PAO Won't Let You See - plus the MBaine comments".
- "2011 NASA Range Safety Annual Report". NASA. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "NASA Invites Media to View the Morpheus Lander at Kennedy". MEDIA ADVISORY : M12-141. NASA. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Project Morpheus: Blog. "Moving Forward, Not Starting Over". NASA. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
- "JSC Roundup, April 2011". NASA.
- "Post on Project Morpheus's Facebook page on August 4, 2011 at about 15:00". NASA and Facebook.
- Sam Shead (August 10, 2012). "Back to the drawing board: Nasa's Morpheus moon lander in fiery crash at Cape Canaveral (lucky it was unmanned!)". Daily Mail (British). Retrieved March 7, 2013.
- "Post on Project Morpheus Facebook site on August 10, 2012 at about 13:00". Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- "Modular Instrumentation System (MIS)". NASA - JSC Engineering. NASA. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
- Crain, Timothy P.; Brady, Tye (May 13, 2011). "Morpheus GNC Development and Testing". NASA. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- Sara McNamara, Guy Schauerhammer, Darby Vicker, Ka4e Boyles. "Aerodynamic Forces and Moments for the Morpheus Lander Using OVERFLOW". NASA. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- "Mission Control Technologies (MCT) Utilized by JSC’s Morpheus Lander Project". NASA. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- "Mission Control Technologies (MCT)". NASA. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- David K. Rutishaus, Chirold D. Epp and Edward A. Robertson. "Free-Flight Terrestrial Rocket Lander Demonstration for NASA's Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) System". American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- Ron Maglothin, Aaron Brogley. "Lean Development with the Morpheus Simulation Software". NASA. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- "Mission Control Technologies (MCT) Utilized by JSC’s Morpheus Lander Project". NASA. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
- "Morpheus Lander Testing Campaign". IEEE Conference Publications (IEEE). March 3–10, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4577-0556-4. ISSN 1095-323X. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "MorpheusLander Channel webpage on YouTube". NASA and YouTube.
- "Post on Project Morpheus's Facebook page on May 10, 2012 at 18:56". NASA and Facebook. May 10, 2012.
- Project Morpheus Lander, Blog. "Look Out For Those Rocks". NASA. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- "NASA tests Project Morpheus engine". Lagniappe (NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center) 7 (7): 4. July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "Project Morpheus Twitter posts on May 16, 2013". NASA. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Lunar-lander testing sparks grass fire at Johnson Space Center". KHOU. June 1, 2011.
- "Grass fire at Johnson Space Center becomes lesson learned". Roundup - Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center: 4. November 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
- "NASA's Morpheus Lander Crashes During First Free Flight Attempt".
- Keith Cowing (May 18, 2013). "Project Morpheus: Hard Lessons and Lean Engineering". Space Ref. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- "Innovative Partnership Tests Fuels of the Future". NASA. October 13, 2009.
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