Morpheus Improvements and Incident Comments

Morpheus is still early in its test phase.  The side by side video comparison below demonstrates the progression of improvements that Morpheus has made in its first four tethered tests.  From our first test where we experienced a controller problem that drove our thruster valve full open to our fine tuning of our data system to filter out the occasional inaccurate measurements that occur, the test sequence shows the improvements that are made from test to test.  Morpheus' design approach is to test often, learn and test again.  Between each test the team gathers and processes data captured in the various systems on Morpheus.  Test dates are set as important deadlines giving team members a bit more of a sense of urgency.  This helps drive the team to make quick but informed decisions for each subsystem.    However, there is a rigorous review before each test to make sure the team is ready for test.  The tether system offers an extra degree of protection for obtaining critical test data while still protecting the vehicle.

Test. Iterate. Test again.

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In regards to the grass fire after the last test, we work very closely with JSC Operational Safety and JSC Fire Protection Services before, during, and after each test.  JSC Fire Protection Services has staff at the test site ready to respond in case of any incident.  They also have existing protocols to bring in the Houston Fire Department for additional help.  Unfortunately immediately after the test and before the grass fire was contained, another fire call in an on-sight JSC building occurred and half the FPS personnel were required to respond to that incident.  While no one was injured and no damage was done to NASA or other property (outside of the grass of course) we do not want another grass fire of that extent.  JSC has initiated an incident review team to evaluate the grass fire response and develop mitigation strategies to allow testing to resume as soon as possible.

Fifth Tethered Hover Flight

In this fifth hover test of the vertical test bed Morpheus. Morpheus ran for the full 30 seconds of hover time. This was a very successful test with a near perfect hover.

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