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NASA robotic lander test flight Nov. 4 will aid in future lander designs

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(Nov. 3, 2011) — NASA will conduct a 100-foot robotic lander altitude test flight Friday, Nov. 4, to mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon, asteroids or other airless bodies.

The test will begin between 10:30 -- 11 a.m. CDT and will air live on NASA Television's Education Channel and the agency's Website. The outdoor test will occur at the U.S. Army's Redstone Test Center on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., and is weather dependant.

The lander prototype will perform an autonomous hover test, flying up to 100 feet and then translate, or move sideways, to perform a controlled, safe landing 30 feet away from the launch pad. The lander, dubbed Mighty Eagle, is fueled by 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide and receives its commands from an onboard computer that activates its onboard thrusters to carry it to a controlled landing using a pre-programmed flight profile. This series of tests demonstrate the test article's capability to perform an autonomous descent and landing and are being used to checkout landing control algorithms for the next generation of lander missions.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

The test also will be webcast live via Ustream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc

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