Dryden Flight Research Center - Flight Research Milestones – 2000's
- The X-48B RPRV makes its first flight at Dryden. It reached an altitude of 7,500 feet in the 31 minute flight.
- Space shuttle Atlantis lands at Edwards to complete the STS-117 mission.
- The SOFIA 747SP arrives at Dryden from Waco, TX.
- The first autonomous aerial refueling is accomplished between a Dryden F-18 and 707 tanker.
- STS-114 lands at Edwards Air Force Base to complete its 14-day, 5.8 million-mile journey.
- Having launched advanced flight research vehicles for nearly a half century, the venerable B-52B "mothership" heavy-lift launch aircraft is decommissioned.
- The X-43A sets a new airspeed record of Mach 9.6 or about 6,800 mph and proves that scramjet propulsion is a viable technology for powering future space-access vehicles and hypersonic aircraft.
- The X-43A hypersonic technology demonstrator is rocketed by the Pegasus booster to an altitude of 95,000 feet and an airspeed of Mach 6.8 or 5,000 mph. It sets the world airspeed record for an aircraft powered by an air-breathing engine.
- Altair UAV makes its first flight at Dryden.
- AAW F-18 makes its first flight.
- The X-45A unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) makes its first flight.
- Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) F-18 rolled out.
- X-38 Vehicle 131R makes the final flight of the program.
- Dryden provides communications support for NASA/Air Force observations of the Leonid meteor storm.
- Autonomous Formation Flight project completes 22 dual-aircraft flights, showing a fuel savings of up to 20 percent.
- Helios a long-duration, solar powered unpiloted aircraft -- takes off from the island of Kauai and sets a world altitude record of 96,863 feet.
- X-43A lost on first launch attempt.
The X-43A is designed to test a scramjet engine at speeds of Mach 7 or Mach 10.
- First X-40A glide flight at Edwards. The X-40A is a low-speed test vehicle to prove the technology for the orbital X-37. During its first flight, the X-40A vehicle was released from a helicopter and made a 74 second glide, landing on the Edwards AFB runway.
- 45th anniversary of the first flight of NB-52 008, the drop aircraft used for many of the X-15 and lifting body flights. It is both the oldest B-52 still flying, and the one with the least total flight time.
Vehicle 132 completed its third and final free flight. Launched from Dryden's B-52, it completed the highest, fastest, and longest X-38 flight to date. It was released at an altitude of 39,000 feet and flew freely for 45 seconds, reaching a speed of over 500 miles per hour before deploying its parachutes for a landing on Rogers Dry Lakebed.
- F-18 Systems Research Aircraft makes its 200th flight.