While NASA is famous for its billion-dollar projects that get man to the moon and beyond, they also do some less expensive sorts of projects. Dubbed Home Depot projects due to their lack of cost and testing, these are NASA skunkworks designed to test a theory on the cheap. If they fail, they fail. One of these projects, NASA’s green-energy Morpheus lander, crashed and burned in spectacular fashion yesterday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was designed and engineered by the minds at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and private company Armadillo Aerospace.
“The Morpheus lander is kind of our poster child. It’s one of our first attempts to do these kinds of projects,” said former project manager Matt Ondler in an interview with Reuters last year. ”Instead of building some elaborate test structure, you go to Home Depot and build something very quickly that gets you 80 percent of the answer and allows you to keep moving forward.”
The Morpheus was designed to run off of green fuels easily synthesized off the surface of the earth. In this case, methane and liquid oxygen. The 1750-pound lander ignited as planned and rose from the earth, but the massive craft then rolled abruptly to one side and plummeted back to earth where, as you can see above, it caught fire and exploded in impressive fashion. The goal of the $7-million-dollar project was to develop a reusable lander capable of ferrying 1100 pounds of gear to the moon and back via vertical take-off and landing.
Tags: houston, texas, johnson space center, morpheus, nasa, nasa morpheus lander, morpheus lander explodes, nasa space probe explodes, morpheus crashes, nasa morpheus lander crashes, fiery crashes, nasa fail, green lander, home depot project, matt ondler, kennedy space center, florida, armadillo aerospace