NASA Technology Enables Precision Landing Without a Pilot

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Margo Pierce
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments – but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition. With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.


Blue Origin-Led National Team  Delivers  Lunar Lander Engineering Mockup to  NASA

The National Team’s engineering mockup of the crew lander vehicle at NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) iconic Building  9. (Credit: Blue Origin)

HOUSTON (Blue Origin PR) — Today, the Blue Origin-led Human Landing System (HLS) National Team – comprised of Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper – delivered an engineering mockup of a crew lander vehicle that could take American astronauts to the Moon. The lander is set up in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF), NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) iconic Building 9.  


JSC Supports Rice Business Plan Competition

NASA PR — Johnson Space Center’s Advanced Planning Office, in conjunction with the JSC Space Life Sciences Directorate, for the fourth straight year is supporting the Rice Business Plan Competition by funding awards totaling $45,000.

The JSC Game Changer Commercial Space Innovation Award will be a prize of $25,000, and the Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award will be a prize of $20,000.


Former JSC Director: Space Program Vital to Texas

Howell: Why the space program is vital to Texas
Op-Ed by Lt. Gen. Jefferson D. Howell
The Statesman

At upcoming events in Austin and College Station, we will celebrate Texas Space Week. Attendees will be able to experience a little of the wonder and amazement I felt during my tenure as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.


Mission Control Roof Damaged But JSC Escapes the Worst of Ike

NASA Update
Houston Chronicle

“NASA’s Mission Control at Johnson Space Center sustained roof damage from high winds during Hurricane Ike, the space agency said Saturday.

A rideout team operating the control center during the storm was able to protect computers and other critical equipment before they could be damaged, said space agency spokesman John Ira Petty.”

Mission control appears to escape major damage
Spaceflight Now

“A rideout team at the Johnson Space Center endured a virtual direct hit from Hurricane Ike early Saturday, firing up generators to keep sensitive computer and communications gear in mission control on line when power was lost. A detailed assessment is not yet available, but officials said no injuries were reported and the space center appeared to escape major damage.”


Hurricane Ike in the Gulf of Mexico at 11:15 a.m. EDT Friday Sept. 12, 2008, heading toward Houston.

The coastal city of Galveston and parts of southern Houston are under evacuations orders. NASA has temporarily moved Mission Control to Huntsville, Ala.