NASA Glenn's S3B Viking Visits Dryden's Palmdale Facility
A Lockheed S3B Viking aircraft from NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland recently visited NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. Primarily used for Aeronautics and Science research at Glenn, the S-3B was flown to Palmdale in support of a NASA inter-center Airborne Science Program leadership meeting. The aircraft is being considered for additional use as an instrument platform for airborne environmental science missions.
"We brought the aircraft out to provide a static display of the aircraft and discuss (its) capabilities in support of future utilization of the aircraft for ASP missions," said Alan Micklewright, Chief of the Aircraft Operations Office at NASA Glenn and S-3B pilot.
"The wing pylon pods have been reconfigured to support ASP instruments/sensors," Micklewright added. "We currently have a Glenn-developed hyper-spectral imaging system installed on the S-3B that has been previously utilized to conduct the Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Monitoring project over Lake Erie."
The imaging system, or other sensors, can be mounted in a modified cargo pod that is hung from a pylon under the left wing, outboard of the left engine. A similar, smaller pod under the right wing is an external fuel tank to extend the S-3B's range and endurance.
The carrier-qualified S-3A and later S-3B Viking aircraft were developed by Lockheed as anti-submarine warfare aircraft in the 1970s, with a few of the 187 S-3s that were built converted to aircraft carrier courier and re-supply aircraft. In the late 1990s, the S-3B's mission focus shifted to surface warfare and aerial refueling. Although most S-3s have now been retired, several S-3Bs continue to patrol the Pacific Missile Range near Hawaii and off the coast of Southern California from Naval Air Station Pt. Mugu, Calif.
NASA Glenn acquired its aircraft when it was retired from naval service in 2005. Now carrying NASA civil registration number N601NA, it has been used for testing the effects of ice accretion on aircraft wings and tails as well as to test anti-icing systems for aircraft. Future plans call for the S-3B to be used as a platform for various research projects supporting NASA's Aeronautics Research and Science Mission Directorates.
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Alan Brown, public affairs
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center