Flight Research @ Dryden

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Flight Research Projects
THE DRYDEN FLIGHT RESEARCH CENTER, located at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is NASA's premier installation for atmospheric flight research and operations. NASA Dryden plays a vital role in carrying out the agency's missions of space exploration, space operations, scientific discovery, and aeronautical research and development. A sampling of current and recently completed projects includes:

NASA's Global Hawks on the aircraft ramp at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

Airborne Science Operations at NASA Dryden

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center operates seven specialized aircraft of varied capabilities to support environmental and Earth science missions under the Airborne Science Program of the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

Global Hawk
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Global Hawk

DC-8 in flight

DC-8 Flying Laboratory

NASA operates a converted McDonnell Douglas DC-8 jetliner as an airborne science laboratory. The highly-modified aircraft, based at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., serves as a platform for data collection on a wide variety of experiments in support of Earth and environmental science projects conducted by NASA, academia and various research institutions around the world.

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ER-2 Tail Number 809 high altitude research aircraft in flight

ER-2 High-altitude Science Aircraft

NASA is using two ER-2 aircraft, a civil derivative of the military U-2S reconnaissance aircraft, on high-altitude science missions. The aircraft, based at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., collect information about our surroundings, including earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. The aircraft also are used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration, and satellite data validation.

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F-15B during Lifting Foam Trajectory flight test

F-15B Research Testbed

The F-15B Research Testbed is a modified twin-engine jet fighter that provides NASA, industry, and universities with long-term capability for the efficient flight test of aerodynamic, instrumentation, propulsion, and other flight research experiments.The F-15B Research Testbed is a unique airborne resource, a virtual "flying wind tunnel," among it's many capabilities.

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flight ops montage

Flight Opportunities Program

The Flight Opportunities Program is administered through the agency’s Office of the Chief Technologist. It is part of the OCT’s Space Technology Program initiative, designed to create multiple paths through which innovative technologies may be matured from concept to flight.

Flight Opportunities Program Status Report    

Gulfstream on Dryden ramp

G-III Research Testbed Aircraft

A modified Grumman Gulfstream III business jet is being used by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center as a testbed for a variety of flight research experiments under the Multi-Role Cooperative Research Platform project. The heavily instrumented twin-turbofan aircraft provides long-term capability for efficient testing of subsonic flight experiments for NASA, the U.S. Air Force, other government agencies, academia, and private industry.

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One of NASA's Global Hawk unmanned science aircraft displays its bulbous nose while parked on the ramp at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

Global Hawk High-Altitude Science Aircraft

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center has acquired three developmental Northrop Grumman autonomously operated Global Hawk aircraft for use in high-altitude, long-duration Earth science missions.

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SOFIA 747SP in flight

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

NASA Dryden is conducting science systems installation and integration and flight testing of SOFIA, a world-class airborne observatory complementing the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes. The observatory features a German-built 2.5-meter diameter infrared telescope mounted in a highly-modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA is a joint program by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

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uas in the nas drawing showing the communication lines between several aircraft and communication devices.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is supporting NASA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System aeronautics initiative. Also known as UAS in the NAS, this research project is designed to address operational and safety issues related to the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

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Ikhana unmanned aircraft in flight

Western States Fire Mission

NASA and the U.S. Forest Service successfully demonstrated technologies that improved real-time wildfire imaging and mapping capabilities during a series of research flights by the Ikhana unmanned research aircraft in late 2007.

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X-48B Blended Wing Body aircraft in flight

X-48 Blended Wing Body

Boeing Phantom Works' unique X-48B Blended Wing Body technology demonstrator is undergoing flight tests at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. The 8.5 percent scale, remotely piloted X-48B is a cross between a conventional aircraft and a flying wing design. Flight tests are intended to validate the potential advantages of the blended wing body aerodynamic concept.

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Past Projects

Research Facilities

Research Facilities at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center provide its pilots, engineers, scientists and technicians a unique and highly specialized capability to conduct flight research programs unmatched anywhere in the world. These facilities incorporate advanced and innovative processes to meet our customers' evolving requirements on time, every time. These facilties include:

Technical Reports

Thousands of technical reports and papers written by NASA Dryden engineers about various aspects of flight research projects conducted at the center over the past six decades are available either on-line on the Dryden Technical Reports Server, which is part of the NASA Technical Report Server, or in hard copy form from the NASA Center for Aerospace Information or the National Technical Information Service. The Dryden Technical Reports Server is a database of Abstracts, Citations and full text Technical Reports written by and for the scientific and technical community. For more information, log onto http://www1.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/DTRS/.