If you’d like to see what goes into making a 1/3-scale Apollo 11 Lunar Module, [Plasanator]’s photos and build details will show off how he constructed one for a kid’s event that was a hit!
The photo gallery gives plenty of ideas about how one would approach a project like this, and readers will surely appreciate the use of an old frying pan as a concrete mold to create the lander’s “feet”. Later, a little paint makes the frying pan become a pseudo-antenna mounted on the lander’s exterior.
Inside, the lander has a control panel with a lot of arcade-style buttons and LED lighting. It’s pretty simple stuff, but livens things up a lot. Bright red lighting for the engine combined with a couple of slow strobe lights really makes it come alive in the dark. The gold foil? Emergency thermal blankets wrapped around the frame.
We happen to have the perfect chaser for this kid-scale lunar module: the Apollo 11 moon landing, recreated with animatronics and LEGO.
Continue reading “Making A Kid-Scale Apollo 11 Lunar Lander”
When a computer crashes, it usually doesn’t leave debris. But when a computer happens to be descending towards the lunar surface and glitches out, that’s a very different story. Turns out that’s what happened on April 26th, as the Japanese Hakuto-R Lunar lander made its mark on the Moon…by crashing into it. [Scott Manley] dove in to try and understand the software bug that caused an otherwise flawless mission to go splat.
The lander began the descent sequence as expected at 100 km above the surface. However, as it descended, the altitude sensor reported the altitude as much lower than it was. It thought it was at zero altitude once it reached about 5 km above the surface. Confused by the fact it hadn’t yet detected physical contact with the surface, the craft continued to slowly descend until it ran out of fuel and plunged to the surface.
Ultimately it all came down to sensor fusion. The lander merges several noisy sensors, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and radar, into one cohesive source of truth. The craft passed over a particularly large cliff that caused the radar altimeter to suddenly spike up 3 km. Like good filtering software, the craft reasons that the sensor must be getting spurious data and filters it out. It was now just estimating its altitude by looking at its acceleration. As anyone who has tried to track an object through space using just gyros and accelerometers alone can attest, errors accumulate, and suddenly you’re not where you think you are.
We know what you’re thinking: surely they would have run landing simulations to catch errors like these? Ironically they did, it’s just that after the simulations were run, the landing site for Hakuto-R was changed. Unfortunately, nobody thought to re-run the simulations, and now the Moon has a new lawn ornament,
We’ve previously written about why lunar landings are so hard. While knowing what led to the crash will hopefully prevent a similar fate for future missions, the reality is that remotely landing a robot on a dusty world without the help of GPS is fiendishly difficult and likely will be for some time.
Continue reading “The Glitch That Brought Down Japan’s Lunar Lander”
Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys ride the rails of hackerdom, exploring the sweetest hacks of the past week. There’s a dead simple component feeder for a pick and place (or any bench that hand-stuffs SMD), batteries for any accomplished mixologist, and a droid build that’s every bit as cool as its Star Wars origins. Plus we gab about obsolescence in the auto industry, fawn over a frugal microcontroller, and ogle some old iron.
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
Direct download (60 MB or so.)
Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 068: Picky Feeders, Slaggy Tables, Wheelie Droids, And Janky Batteries”
Computer gaming has come a very long way since the 1960s. While computers of that era may not run Doom or anything even close to it, many of us had our first exposure to computers playing Hunt the Wumpus, Adventure, or Star Trek over a clackety old TeleType machine. If you missed those days, or if you simply miss them, you might enjoy the video from [somecomputerguy] who fires up an old retired gas pipeline computer and loads enough paper tape into it to play Lunar Lander. (Video embedded below.)
We don’t miss the days of toggling in a bootloader so you could load the paper tape for a second bootloader before you could enter the actual program you wanted to run.
Continue reading “60’s Natural Gas Pipeline Computer Retires To Play Games”
PCB badges have exploded in popularity in recent years. Starting out as a fun token of entry to a conference, they’re now being developed by all manner of independent groups, with DEFCON serving as the heart of the #badgelife movement. After DEFCON 26, Kate Morris and associates decided to undertake the development of their own badge, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing. Kate’s talk at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference serves to tell the tale of creating a retro game to run on a badge platform.
Continue reading “Developing Retro Games For Conference Badges With Kate Morris”
On July 22nd, India launched an ambitious mission to simultaneously deliver an orbiter, lander, and rover to the Moon. Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on a domestically-built GSLV Mk III rocket, Chandrayaan-2 is expected to enter lunar orbit on August 20th. If everything goes well, the mission’s lander module will touch down on September 7th.
Attempting a multifaceted mission of this nature is a bold move, but the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) does have the benefit of experience. The Chandrayaan-1 mission, launched in 2008, spent nearly a year operating in lunar orbit. That mission also included the so-called Moon Impact Probe (MIP), which deliberately crashed into the surface near the Shackleton crater. The MIP wasn’t designed to survive the impact, but it still secured India a position on the short list of countries that have placed an object on the lunar surface.
If the lander component of Chandrayaan-2, named Vikram after Indian space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai, can safely touch down on the lunar surface it will be a historic accomplishment for the ISRO. To date, the only countries to perform a controlled landing on the Moon are the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. Earlier in the year, it seemed Israel would secure its position as the fourth country to perform the feat with their Beresheet spacecraft, but a last second fault caused the craft to crash into the surface. The loss of Beresheet, while unfortunate, has given India an unexpected chance to take the coveted fourth position despite Israel’s head start.
We have a few months before the big event, but so far, everything has gone according to plan for Chandrayaan-2. As we await word that the spacecraft has successfully entered orbit around the Moon, let’s take a closer look at how this ambitious mission is supposed to work.
Continue reading “India Launched A Moon Orbiter, Lander, And Rover All In One Shot With Chandrayaan-2”
The United States is going back to the moon, and it’s happening sooner than you would think. NASA is going back to the moon in 2024, and they might just have the support of Congress to do so.
Getting to the moon is one thing, and since SpaceX launched a car to the asteroid belt, this future of boots on the moon after Apollo seems closer than ever before. But what about landing on the moon? There’s only ever been one Lunar Lander that has taken people down to the moon and brought them back again, and it’s doubtful that design will be used again. Now, Lockheed has their own plan for landing people on the moon, and they might be able to do it by 2024.
Continue reading “Lockheed Wants To Build The Next Lunar Lander”