NASA’s Hovering Mighty Eagle

The Eagle is flying (or at least hovering).  Image from NASA’s site. Click on it to go there.

I’ve been interested in SpaceX’s Grasshopper and the ability to launch, hover, and land it on the same launch pad.  You can go to one of my posts, here, to see that feat.  But I feel I should give NASA its due.  NASA is developing a robotic lander that for now they’ve named the “Mighty Eagle.”  The Mighty Eagle has a different function than SpaceX’s Grasshopper, but it’s still pretty neat.

You’d think with all the smart people working at NASA, they’d be able to build something that doesn’t look like it’s built from Erector Set parts.  Considering the budget, though, perhaps it is built from Erector set parts after all.  The Grasshopper looks like a rocket, while the Mighty Eagle looks like a child built it and it’s not quite finished yet.

But the looks just might be a hint at the different functions each one caters to.  It could also be the Mighty Eagle really isn’t quite finished yet.  The Grasshopper is intended to be prototype for future SpaceX rockets and reusable rocket-body design.  The Mighty Eagle is intended to be a robotic explorer hopping across the surface of planets.  One is designed to transport payloads to space.  One is designed to be a payload.  I don’t think NASA has even flown the Mighty Eagle near as high as SpaceX flew the Grasshopper.

You can see the video of the Mighty Eagle’s progress below.

More interesting to me would be knowing just how much each program costs.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet Grasshopper was cheaper to build and run…

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