Let's Fly Away
X-48B Blended Wing Body
The Boeing Blended Wing Body gets its name from its triangle shape. It does not have a raised tail like most airplanes. Most airplanes are shaped like tubes with wings and a raised tail.
NASA uses T-38s for many tasks. They are often used as chase planes. Chase planes fly beside other aircraft during
test flights. The airplane's crew watches for problems with the test aircraft. Photographers can ride along and take pictures of the flight.
SOFIA is short for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. This airplane is a Boeing 747SP that used to carry passengers. NASA changed it to carry a large telescope. Part of the SOFIA program lets teachers from across the United States do astronomy experiments on the airplane as it flies.
NASA used the F-15B Active to test technologies that could make other airplanes safer to fly.
The ER-2 can fly to the edge of space. It carries many cameras that take pictures to help scientists study Earth.
The cameras can take pictures of forest fires, changing weather and even erupting volcanoes.
The X-29 almost looks as if it is flying backward. The forward-swept wings are fastened to the back of the aircraft. Stabilizers, which help keep an airplane flying straight, are in front of the wings instead of on the tail.
"Ikhana" is a Choctaw Nation name. It means "intelligent." Ikhana is a remote-controlled airplane. It collects
information to help scientists better understand Earth's climate.
NASA used two SR-71 Blackbirds to test high-speed and high-altitude flying. The U.S. Air Force loaned them to NASA.
The Blackbird can fly more than 2,200 miles per hour and up to 85,000 feet high.
The X-1 program was first called the XS-1 for "Experimental Sonic." The X-1 program proved that humans could
fly faster than the speed of sound.
Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California is working with the U.S. Air Force on this project.
Computer systems put on board will help keep high-speed fighter aircraft from crashing into each other.
X-43A Hypersonic Experimental Vehicle
NASA's X-43A hypersonic research aircraft is remote-controlled. It was the first scramjet-powered aircraft to fly five times the speed of sound. The flight took place on Nov. 16, 2004, and reached a speed of Mach 9.6, or almost 7,000 mph.
The X-15 was a rocket-powered airplane that flew to the edge of space. Some X-15 pilots earned astronaut wings.
NASA no longer flies the X-15.
A dodecahedron (doe decka hee drun) is a shape with 12 faces. It looks like a ball. On each of the faces of the dodecahedron are pictures of past, present and future NASA aircraft. Print the patterns, color them, cut out the pieces and glue them together to make your own dodecahedron!
Make your own Let's Fly Away Dodecahedron
[3MB PDF file]