NASA Dryden director David McBride, speaking at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade's 2013 Business Outlook Conference, noted that the SOFIA observatory, whose telescope mirror is shown on the screen at left, has brought astronomical discoveries "astrophysicists did not expect." › View Larger Image
NASA Dryden, Edwards AFB in Focus at AV Outlook Conference
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center had a successful year in 2012 and businesses and contractors in the Antelope Valley had a role in that success.
So said David McBride, director of the NASA field center at Edwards Air Force Base, during his presentation at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade Business Outlook Conference Feb. 22 at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Calif. The conference featured local, state and federal representatives giving updates on the economic trends and forecasts on the communities that make up the Antelope Valley and issues that can impact the area.
McBride showed a brief video highlighting Dryden projects, programs and research in 2012, among them the space shuttle Endeavour delivery to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, sonic boom research and Earth and space science research missions. In addition, other projects included the automatic ground collision avoidance system development, the X-48C flight testing, the Flight Opportunities Program, Boeing's Phantom Eye and Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser space-access vehicle, an engineering mockup of which is scheduled to arrive at NASA Dryden to begin approach-and-landing tests in coming weeks.
Many in the audience were audibly wowed as the aircraft flashed across the screen to a driving beat that accompanied the video.
McBride highlighted a number of projects, such as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or the SOFIA. Images from the observatory's 100-inch telescope are showing astronomical discoveries "astrophysicists did not expect," he said.
Dryden work on quieting sonic booms will lead the way to eventually allow supersonic travel over land, automatic ground collision avoidance systems will lead to future aircraft that cannot crash and the X-48C represents the new shape of future aircraft that will be 20 percent to 40 percent more efficient than today's tube-and-wing designs, he explained.
McBride noted that the Global Hawk is opening up civil opportunities for unmanned aircraft systems with its use for hurricane research, missions flown on Dryden's DC-8 flying laboratory is leading to new discoveries in climate research and the Flight Opportunities Program is encouraging commercial access to space. He said Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser could lead to a winged manned spacecraft to orbit and Boeing's Phantom Eye testing at Dryden could eventually lead to a hydrogen-powered unoccupied surveillance aircraft that could remain aloft for up to four days.
McBride stated that nearly three dozen local businesses or contractors contributed to Dryden's success in 2012. In return, the center created jobs in the community valued at $75.5 million and generated an overall economic impact of $328.4 million.
In addition, scientists and visitors to Dryden's main campus and the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., "eat in your restaurants and shop in your stores," he told conference attendees.
McBride noted many of the businesses and contractors that Dryden has employed, but he specifically thanked ASB Avionics of Mojave, Calif., for that company's work in upgrading the flight deck avionics of the SOFIA aircraft, Adaptive Aerospace Corporation of Tehachapi, Calif., for its installation of a SATCOM antenna on Dryden's B200 Super King Air and Nibbelink Masonry Construction of Lancaster, Calif., for work on the new Dryden Facilities Support Center.
Jay Levine, NASA Dryden public affairs
Photos by Tom Tschida, NASA Dryden photo services