Pictured above: NASA’s Prototype Morpheus Lander Blasting off during its first night flight test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, May 28th.  Photo Credit: NASA

NASA’s unmanned Morpheus spacecraft successfully navigated the Florida night sky Wednesday, May 28th, rising to over 800 feet before touching down on a mock lunar surface near Kennedy Space Center.  The successful free-flight marks the 14th and final test of the prototype capable of vertical take-offs and touch-downs with up to 1100 lbs. of cargo.

Outfitted with the latest technology, NASA hopes Morpheus’ capabilities will enable missions to landing sites that were previously considered too risky for robotic landings.  The agile prototype uses an ALHAT (Automated Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology) landing system to map out a planet’s surface and determine the best place for touchdown.  Its engines run on liquid oxygen and methane, which NASA officials say is cleaner, safer, cheaper, and longer-lasting that traditional rocket fuels.

See a video of Morpheus’ first night flight HERE.