A miniaturised Pratt & Whitney thruster has completed hot-fire thruster tests to demonstrate its capability to perform the descent and landing operation for a Nasa robotic lunar lander project.

The lunar lander capability is being developed to undertake robotic scientific missions including missions on seismology and heat flow.

The lander is being designed to land on the near side or far side of the moon, inside or on the edge of craters, and will have the ability to withstand extreme environments on moon.

Thruster was put through a 16-minute firing sequence to simulate a lunar landing, including continuous burns up to ten times longer than typically required for missile defence systems.

The technology, developed for ballistic missile defence systems, is being tested for use in the new generation of multi-use robotic lunar landers to allow Nasa to minimise additional development cost, risk or delay.

The tests are part of a series of risk-reduction activities that are being performed currently to aid in the design of the lunar landers for future robotic space exploration.