NASA is currently working on a vertical landing system. And as you'll see in this video, it's anything but impressive — especially when considering that it fails in the first part of the video, that it's the 24th test, and the damn thing was tethered. Meanwhile, SpaceX is hopping rockets to a height of 820 feet.
Sure, Project Morpheus is different. It's a vertical lander intended intended to place 1,100 pounds of cargo on the moon. But come on. This is the best they can do? Perhaps if NASA received more funding its engineers could actually set about the tasks they're assigned.
At the same time, the private industry is doing this:
Can you imagine the gyroscopic calculations required to keep this thing balanced? Morpheus, on the other hand, should be much easier to hold on account of its rounded and spherical shape, which gives it a more manageable center of gravity.
Universe Today tells us more about Morpheus and the recent test:
The first lander of the program crashed and burned in a test failure in August 2012, but officials recently praised the program for the progress it has made since then.
“Although a hardware failure led to the loss of the original vehicle last August, the failure and our internal investigation gave us valuable insight into areas that needed improvement,” a Project Morpheus blog post from May stated.
“The vehicle may look largely the same as the previous version, but there are numerous changes that have been incorporated. We have now implemented 70 different upgrades to the vehicle and ground systems to both address potential contributors to the test failure, and also to improve operability and maintainability.”
Eventually, NASA wants to use Morpheus as a test bed for environmentally friendly propellants and for automatic advances in landing and hazard detection.