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Towards a New Generation of Spacecraft Landing Testbeds: Emulating Spacecraft Landing Dynamics on a Helicopter

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Numerous future space science missions require landing on the surface of planetary bodies such as Mars, the Moon, asteroids and comets. NASA and JPL are investing significant resources in advancing the state of the art in Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) technologies to support these missions. Prior to being used, these technologies must be validated through a variety of simulation and real-world field tests. This work supports those objectives by emulating spacecraft landing dynamics on a model helicopter, thereby creating a novel, small, low-cost testbed for future missions that require an EDL capability. This work will increase the capabilities of the preexisting autonomous model helicopter testbeds at both JPL and partners at USC, and allow testing of these EDL technologies over a greater range of the test space to reduce mission risk and help enable future space missions. The deliverables from this effort are a model and control system for a class of helicopters, and a method and implementation of emulating EDL spacecraft dynamics on a helicopter platform.

Completion Date:  06/30/2006

Point of Contact:  James Montgomery - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sponsored by:  Directors Research and Development Fund



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