Message from the Director of:



GSFC 580 collaborating with JSC Morpheus Lander.  The Morpheus project was started at JSC in July 2010 as a skunk works effort to demonstrate a vehicle capable of landing the humanoid Robonaut on the Moon within three years. Given the challenging schedule, the Morpheus team contacted the GSFC Altair Lander team and quickly decided to use the core Flight Executive (cFE) and Core Flight Software (CFS) as the flight software and GSFC’s Integrated Test and Operations System (ITOS) as the operations center software.


Using the same core software as GSFC’s LRO, MMS and GPM missions, JSC quickly added the GN&C functions and a suite of sensors and actuators. To speed development and integration, JSC used the concept of “virtualized” sensor and actuators that interfaced through the cFE Software Bus (SB) to switch between hardware and simulated subsystems with ease.  With the Morpheus team able to build and demonstrate the Lander in under a year, the Code 582 developed cFE/CFS flight software has garnered considerable praise at JSC. JSC upper management has stated “how impressed we are at JSC with the Goddard Core Flight Software (CFS)”… “the high quality code base (and architecture) of CFS has been a major enabler”.  The Morpheus vehicle was demonstrated to Administrator Bolden along with the JSC center management on 03/23 this year where the team again spoke of how the contribution and collaboration of GSFC was a key enabler of their rapid vehicle development.  An additional key factor in their success was the GSFC Operating System Abstraction Layer (OSAL) and cFE concept of layered abstractions. In just a few weeks, the JSC team was able to completely integrate the cFE/CFS software into their standard “Trick” simulation environment. This provided for high fidelity software testing and faster than real time GN&C with full vehicle Monte-Carlo runs. With the successful high fidelity simulation runs complete the team moved from simulation to flight vehicle in just a few weeks.


As part of the software effort, the team integrated the OSAL/cFE/CFS software, simulation, and the ITOS ground software into a one VMware virtual machine. This allowed them to provide developers and testers with virtual machines including all the tools and environment configured and ready to go. New team members simply downloaded the free VMware Player and started the virtual machine on their desktop or laptops.


In May of this year the Morpheus management team travel to Goddard to discuss further collaborations and express their thanks in person, presenting the AETD Director and 580 Division Chief with award plaques.


It is expected that the JSC GSFC collaboration will continue in FY12 and beyond with the Morpheus team winning one of the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) proposals. The multi-year proposal “Autonomous Precision Landing Flight test” will fly the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) on the Morpheus vehicle. Part of this effort will involve GSFC adding additional fault tolerance features and evolving the cFE/CFS from Class B software to Class A.