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November 4, 2014

The Armstrong Flight Research Center is NASA's primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations. NASA Armstrong is chartered to research and test advanced aeronautics, space and related technologies that are critical to carrying out the agency's missions of space exploration, space operations, scientific discovery, and aeronautical research and development.[image-62]

Located at Edwards, California, in the western Mojave Desert, Armstrong is uniquely situated to take advantage of the excellent year-round flying weather, remote area and visibility to flight test some of the nation's most unique aircraft and aeronautical systems, as well as conduct flight operations for a wide variety of airborne science missions.

In support of space exploration, the center is managing launch abort systems testing and integration, in partnership with the Johnson Space Center and Lockheed Martin, for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, a spacecraft built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Armstrong also provides space-to-ground communications support for the International Space Station.

NASA Armstrong was directly involved in the now-concluded Space Shuttle Program for more than 35 years, hosting the Approach and landing tests of the space shuttle prototype orbiter Enterprise in 1977 and then as the initial, and then later as the primary alternate landing site for the operational shuttles from 1981 until the last shuttle flight in 2011.

More recently, Armstrong served as the flight test facility for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser, which had been proposed as a low-Earth-orbit vehicle to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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In support of NASA's astrophysics work, the center manages flight operations of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) program, which incorporates a 2.5-meter high-tech telescope aboard a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft, in partnership with NASA's Ames Research Center and the German Aerospace Center.

The center operates a small fleet of highly specialized manned and unmanned aircraft that conduct a wide variety of Earth science missions under the Airborne Science Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. These aircraft conduct atmospheric sampling, environmental imaging and satellite sensor validation missions around the globe.

In support of aeronautical research and development, the center is involved in many aspects of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics and Aviation Safety programs. Current or recent projects have involved:

  • Improving fuel efficiencies and reducing potentially harmful exhaust emissions
  • Noise reduction on takeoff and landing via aerodynamic improvements including flexible control surfaces
  • Research into vehicle integrated propulsion
  • Development of systems and procedures to safely integrate remotely or autonomously operated aircraft into the national airspace with aircraft flown by on-board pilots
  • Mitigation of sonic booms that could make supersonic commercial flight over the U.S. feasible.
  • Improved ground and airborne automatic collision avoidance systems

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NASA Armstrong also supports NASA's space technology development efforts through its management of the Flight Opportunities Program, which provides flights on a variety of sub-orbital vehicles, balloons and aircraft to developers of various technology payloads that could aid NASA's future space exploration activities.

Along with research and support aircraft, Armstrong's assets include simulation laboratories, a high-temperature and flight loads-calibration laboratory, aircraft flight test instrumentation capability, a data analysis facility to process flight research data and expertise in remotely operated aircraft flight research.

In addition, Armstrong's Research Aircraft Integration Facility can simultaneously check aircraft flight controls, avionics, electronics and other systems. The only one of its type in NASA, the facility is designed to speed up and enhance systems integration and preflight checks on research aircraft.

For almost 70 years, research at NASA Armstrong has led to major advancements and breakthroughs in the design and capabilities of many state-of-the-art civil and military aircraft. Here, we demonstrate America's leadership in aeronautics, Earth and space science and aerospace technology as we seek to revolutionize aviation, add to mankind's knowledge of the universe and contribute to our understand and protection of Earth.

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
P.O. Box 273
Edwards, CA 93523-0273

661-276-3311

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NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center is situated immediately adjacent to the compass rose along the edge of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base.
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center is situated immediately adjacent to the compass rose along the edge of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base.
Image Credit: 
NASA Photo
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NASA Armstrong operates a small fleet of early-model F/A-18 aircraft for a variety of mission support and occasional research purposes.
NASA Armstrong operates a small fleet of early-model F/A-18 aircraft for a variety of mission support and occasional research purposes.
Image Credit: 
NASA Photo / Graphic
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This autonomously operated is one of a half-dozen highly specialized aircraft flown by NASA Armstrong on a wide variety of Earth science missions for NASA's Airborne Science Program.
This autonomously operated is one of a half-dozen highly specialized aircraft flown by NASA Armstrong on a wide variety of Earth science missions for NASA's Airborne Science Program.
Image Credit: 
NASA Photo
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Page Last Updated: November 4th, 2014
Page Editor: Yvonne Gibbs