Hard at Work

The Morpheus team has been hard at work preparing for this year’s series of tests and building the new Morpheus 1.5B and 1.5C vehicles.  We have been busy assembling the vehicle structures, wiring in all of our sensors, running integrated tests, continuing engine firings at Stennis Space Center, and more.

Hard at Work

Langley Helicopter with ALHAT sensors attached
running simulated Morpheus flights at KSC.
Image Credit: NASA
The Morpheus and ALHAT teams are now a combined team, which enables a more integrated series of tests as we prepare for future flight tests.  One of these integrated tests took place at Kennedy Space Center in December.  We used a Langley Research Center Huey helicopter as a stand-in for Morpheus.  We mounted the ALHAT sensors under the belly of the helicopter pointed in the direction of the helicopter motion.  Other components such as sensor electronics, Morpheus flight computer, real-time communications equipment and support hardware were placed in the passenger/cargo area.  This allowed both onboard and ground support teams to monitor progress in real-time.  The helicopter was  flown repeatedly on Morpheus-type trajectories towards the 
hazard field. 

The direction of approach depended on the winds of the day, but even with that variation, the trajectories allowed us to test the performance of the ALHAT system.  Using a helicopter gave us a lot of flexibility to fly several different approaches including slow descents, hovers in various parts of the descent and other variations.  These controlled variety of trajectories allowed us to collect valuable data supporting all test objectives and to practice new ground support procedures as excellent preparation for future Morpheus flights.

Morpheus Engine during
testing at Stennis Space Center
Image Credit: NASA
Engine testing at Stennis Space Center proceeded concurrently with the vehicle structure build up and testing.  We recently successfully fired 4th generation engine through the same throttle levels and duration (123 seconds) as the longest and highest flight profile we plan to attempt this year.  Testing continues this week as the team puts in long hours verifying capabilities and throttle levels.

Our new fuel tanks are being put through their own series of inspections and tests, including checking welds for defects, cycling tank pressure to establish a minimum cycle life expectancy of the tanks, and pressurizing a sacrificial tank until it bursts to verify maximum pressure capabilities.

All of this work is setting us up for a series of static hot fire and dynamic tethered flight tests at Johnson Space Center this spring in preparation for a return to free-flight testing at Kennedy Space Center this summer.

Morpheus Fuel Tank at JSC
Image Credit: NASA / Kris Kehe


  1. Nice to hear you're making progress, good luck to the whole team.

    The video is currently set to private.

  2. Welcome back.

    If you sell copies to other projects the methane/LOX engine will need its own name.

    ALHAT deserves its own Wikipedia website.

  3. I encourage you to do that. Wikipedia discourages folks from creating and/or editing their own pages.

  4. I have give Wikipedia a draft ALHAT article. With luck they will publish it in a week's time.

  5. The bare bones ALHAT article was approved by Wikipedia today. Ready for people to correct and enhance.