NASA can’t just park up in the middle of space and rely on Robotnaut 2 for its entertainment. Actually, it probably can, but at some point the urge to explore new worlds will become too strong to resist. That’s when it’ll need a suborbital rocket guidance system like the GENIE (“Guidance Embedded Navigator Integration Environment”), which transforms a flood of sensory data into reliable and autonomous maneuvers. Fortunately, the system’s economics make a whole lot more sense than its name, which is why NASA is depending on technology like this to control the next generation of affordable and reusable space craft. The test flight shown after the break can only boost GENIE’s chances: it took a Xombie rocket up to 160 feet and then made it fly laterally for another 160 feet before landing with a degree of swagger that makes the previous flightin 2010 look plain rickety.