Conventional rocket fuel—mostly ammonium perchlorate and aluminum—is difficult stuff to come by when you're on, say, the Moon. So we'll need to develop flexible alternative fuels if we ever want escape the backwoods of the solar system. Luckily, NASA's green engine test rig, the Morpheus Lander, is doing just that.
The Morpheus Lander is an R&D vehicle stationed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. It was developed entirely in-house by NASA engineers and grew out of the failed Project M—an Armadillo Aerospace project intended to put a Robonaut 2 on the surface of the Moon. The Morpheus test regimen puts prototype green-fuel engines through their paces while simultaneously developing Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) for future robotic spacecraft. Its primary focus is developing the technology and command systems necessary for a successful, fully autonomous Lunar descent.