Smithsonian Air & Space Article

Leaping Lunar Landers!

by Michael Belfiore, Air & Space Magazine


Can a spacecraft hop its way to winning the Google Lunar X prize?


In a windowless two-story room in a Cambridge, Massachusetts laboratory, a contraption of carbon fiber and plywood dangles from a crane in the ceiling, three feet from the floor. The machine is about three feet across, and at each corner, ducted fans point down, at an outward angle of about 30 degrees. They are silent now, but when running, their function is to counteract five-sixths of the pull of Earth’s gravity and allow the machine to simulate operations in the moon’s 1/6 G.

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