Xombie Rocket Lander Proves Capable of Landing on Mars


Good news for the space buffs in the audience: the human race is continuing its march toward the stars. Now a small, private company has successfully demonstrated a rocket-powered lander in Earth’s gravity field, meaning that the craft would be more than capable of handling the gravity on Mars or the moon.Built by Masten Aerospace Systems, the rocket demonstrated, during a test for NASA, that it is capable of launching off the ground and navigating. It successfully managed to take off, fly up 164 feet, move just about as far horizontally, before settling back down after a 67 second flight.The secret to the rocket’s success lies in its navigational system call the Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment, or GENIE. The GENIE was developed by the non-profit Draper Laboratory solely for the task of flying things around difficult or complex areas. The test, which was done as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, proved that the tech works, hopefully leading to more dramatic, longer lasting tests of the tech in the future.The dream is that this new rocket will act as the platform for landing on other worlds. Both NASA and the private sector are dreaming of returning to the moon, even as NASA is being redirected by new legislation. This lander might make it simple to get a payload onto the surface of another astral body.Last year, NASA provided $10 million to the financing of private sector space companies including Masten, as well as Armadillo Aerospace, XCOR and Virgin Galactic. Many of these contracts are for the companies to deliver payloads to suborbital space. NASA dreams that these companies can do what it never could, making space access cheap and reasonable.