Boeing's Phantom Ray Hitches a Ride to NASA Dryden
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is hosting the flight test operations of Boeing’s Phantom Ray, a stealthy, jet-powered Unmanned Aircraft System aircraft.
While at NASA Dryden, the Phantom Ray will undergo a series of tests to prepare it to fly as a test bed for advanced technologies. Those tests are expected to culminate in a first flight sometime in 2011.
Dryden is providing hangar facilities, engineering and ground test support, as well as test range support for the project.
Under a Boeing-funded commercial Space Act agreement with NASA, the Phantom Ray aircraft was ferried from the company's facilities in St. Louis, Mo, to NASA Dryden at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California's high desert Dec. 14 atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 905.
It is the first time something other than a space shuttle was carried by one of the two modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Boeing used the converted jumbo jetliner to transport the Phantom Ray to Dryden as the most cost-effective way to accomplish the job, as the wings of the Phantom Ray aircraft are not removable, making overland transportation difficult and costly.
The Phantom Ray was mounted on a special Boeing-developed attachment rack that was installed on the two aft space shuttle mounting pylons on the modified 747.
The Phantom Ray is based on the X-45C aircraft that Boeing originally developed for the Joint-Unmanned Combat Air System program jointly sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy. That effort grew out of the X-45A project that successfully flew two prototype technology-demonstration aircraft at NASA Dryden between 2002 and 2005.
NASA Dryden Public Affairs