CAMBRIDGE, MA—One of the biggest challenges in returning astronauts to the moon is navigating a safe and accurate landing. Given the speed and complexity of the task, the navigation system must enable the crew to achieve a pinpoint landing and detect and avoid hazards such as boulders, slopes and uneven surfaces.
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate has selected Draper’s navigation system as one of the top 25 promising space technologies for commercial flight tests. The technology is planned to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, the agency said in a statement.
The current contract builds on Draper’s relationship with the nation’s space program, which began with the Apollo Program in the 1960s, and furthers its reach into the commercial sector. Draper is a partner to commercial space entities General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, ispace, inc., and Spaceflight, Inc., among others worldwide, and a participant on commercial and government space programs, both crewed and uncrewed, including NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program and its commercial lunar services program.
“Draper occupies a special position within the space ecosystem that gives the company deep expertise in what’s required—and how to deliver—commercial technologies that will perform in space,” said Seamus Tuohy, principal director of space systems at Draper.
Companies selected for the program will conduct tests aboard aircraft, high-altitude balloons and suborbital rockets. These flights will expose the payloads to the rigors and characteristics of spaceflight at lower cost and risk than orbital missions, NASA said.