Free flight and a soft landing for NASA's Morpheus

NASA’s Morpheus prototype lander has conducted a successful free-flight test that saw it reach a height of 580 feet in its fastest and highest ascent to date.

The 83 second test (which is rather noisy — watch the volume on the video) was performed at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida

Morpheus started its journey over a flame trench and ended it by landing in a specially designed area 837 feet away.

Designed to serve as a vertical testbed for advanced spacecraft technologies, Morpheus provides a platform for bringing technologies from the laboratory into an integrated flight system at relatively low cost.

The vertical take-off and landing vehicle is propelled by a mixture of methane and liquid oxygen and is designed to carry payloads of up to 1,100 pounds.