Private spaceflight company Masten Space’s XA-01.B rocket, which they have dubbed Xombie for short, was recently launched and it included Draper Laboratory’s GENIE system. Draper Laboratory created the guidance computer for the Apollo program and their latest system also performed well, during this test launch.
Back then, Draper Labs was still a part of MIT and its team developed the Apollo Guidance Computer in the early 1960s. In 1973, Draper Labs was spun off into its own company. Recently, the company had started testing a new guidance system for unmanned rockets called GENIE (Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment). They tested it on a private rocket developed by Masten Space Systems.
Draper Laboratory is a not-for profit, engineering research and development organization dedicated to solving critical problems in national security, space systems, biomedical systems, and energy. Masten Space Systems designs, builds, tests and operates reusable launch vehicles, which will enable an increase in flight rate, drive down the cost of space access, and allow more people to reach space.
NASA hopes that in the long term, Masten’s Xombie rocket, including the GENIE system, might be able to test payloads destined for the Moon or Mars by simulating a final approach here on Earth. This would allow them to test NASA instruments in situations that are not easy to simulate.
Very neat! That’s just like old ’50’s SF black and white movies where the rockets always landed on their fins.