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E.T. Phone Drone

Using small-fry drones to simulate landing robots on the Moon.

by Brian Anderson
19 December 2012, 6:06pm

Humans haven't set foot on lunar soil in 30 years, which is pretty sad. But with the dawn of privatized space flight and exploration brightening up to what could be a blindingly cosmic high-noon, man's triumphant "return" to the moon--even if this means following in the unmanned footsteps of spacefaring robots like Curiosity--could be coming a whole sooner than we think. And to simulate what it'll be like to successfully land a capsule on that cold rock, one NASA-backed company is using a small-fry quadcopter to refine its lunar-landing test rig.

Whenever Moon Express, a privately-funded lunar transport and data service company headquartered at NASA's Ames campus, is all systems go for its virgin flight (the company only formed last year), their capsule will be set on course to touch down somewhere in the moon's southern hemisphere, where "hazardous landing risks are minimized". Until then, it's droning on Earth to figure out the optimal way to do so.

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