Quadcopter . . . On The Moon!


Known as the Terrestrial Artificial Lunar and Reduced Gravity Simulator, or Talaris, the three-foot-wide vehicle is a smaller version of a hopper that would be used in space. It is designed to go about 20 meters per hop; space-based hoppers might cover tens of kilometers--or possibly more--in a single bound. The team that built Talaris wants to use it on Earth to test guidance, navigation, and control software developed by Draper that would allow the space-based hopper to navigate autonomously.

The prototype was developed as part of MIT's effort to win the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition to get a privately funded spacecraft to reach the moon, travel 500 meters across its surface, and transmit video, images, and other data back to Earth. Both MIT and Draper are members of Next Giant Leap, one of about 20 teams registered in the competition.

Leaps and Bounds - Technology Review

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    I just saw this article in the September 2011 issue of Air & Space Smithsonian and recalled this post on DIY Drones.  Fortunately, the article is posted in its entirety HERE.

  • the craziest thing about talaris is the amount of energy being pumped out. flight times were originally only supposed to be about 30 seconds and it would go through a whole lot of power. i forget what the initial mass was, but i seem to remember it being somewhere over 70 lbs.
    i worked on some of the controls for this thing and making a controller that would guarantee that it would fly safely and not kill anyone was a trick bit of work.
  • @Matt: That was amazing. Neil Armstrong was a gutsy fellow. I hope that thrusters were made more reliable after that incident, however "unremarkable" it was.
  • Just a side note - Neil Armstrong almost killed himself in the LLRV - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlJGQ92IgFk
  • Do you think they can keep the memory requirements down to less than 100KB, like the real lunar lander did back in 1969?
  • This is indeed a test rig for the earth. The ducted fans are used to counteract gravity so that the rest of the platform can be tested. Still very cool.

    The flying bedstead balanced on the thrust from the turbofan. Kind of like trying to balance a pencil vertically on the tip of your finger. The thrusters were only capable of countering a few degrees of roll.

    Four were built, three were crashed. The company I worked for made the thrusters, and more importantly, the ejection seat. I have seen the video of the three crashes. Neil Armstrong ejected less than a second before impact. This is an early version. The later versions had a styrofoam cockpit to simulate the narrow field of view on the lunar lander.
  • An almost identical approach was taken to simulate and train for the first manned moon landing. The "flying bedstead" used a turbojet to lift the rig and simulate the 1/6th earth gravity of the moon. The rig was used to train the astronauts that would pilot the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) that would ultimately land on the surface of the moon.

  • I think you misunderstand the point of the ducted fans, while they won't work on the moon (there is no fluid atmosphere), they aren't supposed to.

    The ducted fans are for the experimental vehicle on earth. They will run in order to simulate the gravity conditions on the moon by acting against the force of Earth's gravity a certain percentage.

    The compressed gas thrusters are designed for use in space and on the moon.
  • there is no vacuum on the moon
    it's not a spacecraft, just a moon jumper

  • ehmm... electric ducted fans in the vacuum space?
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