Draper Multi-Environment Navigator High Altitude Balloon Campaign

PI: Brett Streetman, Courtney Mario (Co-I), Draper Laboratory Inc.

The Draper Multi-Environment Navigator (DMEN) is a suite of sensors that addresses the need for precise entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on both human and robotic exploration missions. This system improves a landers knowledge of where it is, and additionally identifies landing hazards at planetary bodies where GPS or ground updates are not readily available. The technology functions in a small, self-contained package with algorithms that use data from the sensors for navigation. Two balloon flights enabled data collection and validation of algorithms for DMEN’s descent capability.

SciTech2023: Vision-Based Terrain Relative Navigation on High Altitude Balloon and Sub-Orbital Rocket

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA04 Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems
  • TA09 Entry, Descent and Landing Systems
Problem Statement

As exploration reaches further into the solar system both human missions and a multitude of smaller craft will need to perform Entry, Descent & Landing (EDL) to complete their missions.

Technology Maturation

Before the flight test, DMEN was at a TRL level of 6-7 for both ground and low-altitude operations. Its descent function, however, required a near-space environment before it could advance from TRL 4. Two balloon flights successfully validated the system’s sensors and algorithms in a high-altitude environment, advancing the technology to TRL 6.

Future Customers

• NASA or commercial human and robotic missions requiring EDL
• Astronaut tracking
• High-speed drones for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
• Guided parafoils for the U.S. Army

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    REDDI-F1-17A (Nov 2017)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 2 Balloon

Development Team

Web Accessibility and Privacy Notices Curator: Alexander van Dijk Responsible NASA Official: Stephan Ord Last Update: November 16, 2018