Jaiwon Shin said the future looks brighter for NASA aeronautics. (NASA Photo / Tom Tschida) The future looks bright for NASA aeronautics and for Dryden with another $70 million in President Barack Obama's proposed budget, Jaiwon Shin, NASA Associate Administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, told Dryden employees at a May 19 all-hands meeting.
Center Director David McBride told the audience the May 6 Pad Abort 1 launch test, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy open-door flights and preparations for the "first-light" data-gathering flights with the telescope, and the Global Hawk's first science mission are events the center can be proud of.
"Everything we do, everything we're doing for the rest of the agency has its roots in aeronautics," McBride said.
The work McBride mentioned, plus the recent X-48B Phase I completion and historic work with the space shuttles and X-planes are key to NASA.
Shin also recognized NASA's aeronautical accomplishments.
"The aeronautics capabilities and research that you guys conduct here will be the bedrock for many, many good things to come for the agency, across the agency. That is the tradition we want to continue," Shin said.
"Our collective outstanding technical work and those supporting it at the four aeronautics centers accomplished bringing in another $70 million augmentation in the fiscal year 2011 president's budget. It has not been approved yet. Congress is going to debate it, but it is a good start.
"In a $450 million budget, that is a significant percentage of augmentation. You should all be congratulated for bringing in more money to do more of the exciting work we have always been doing," he added.
Included in that proposed $70 million budget boost would be funds for research on integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace. Dryden will be the host center for the work, which will study the safe introduction of routine operations in the national airspace by autonomous and remotely controlled aircraft. Such aircraft currently cannot fly without special permission from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Shin also said Dryden will have major roles in validation and verification of complex systems that will be included in aviation safety and Environmentally Responsible Aviation programs.
Despite budget challenges at the national level, Shin said the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate managed to "crack open the door." Part of the $70 million increase is to be used for developing a design study to make a compelling argument for a new X-plane.
He said progress is slow but steady in convincing the U.S. Office of Management and Budget that a flying test bed is needed to test integrated technologies developed through fundamental aeronautics research. "There's been persistent advocacy for two years, and we are getting traction on that. We are going to keep at it. That design study will generate more technically credible ideas for how we could build a flight test bed," Shin said.
Approval by the OMB was obtained for two aeronautics programs without a single change, he noted.
"That is very significant. Being the devil's advocate is their job, to make sure the money is judiciously spent. For them to approve exact content, exactly the way we proposed it, can only be interpreted that they trust us, they agree and they saw the same technical value we saw. That's why I congratulate all of you and all research centers."
Shin also stressed that all four NASA research centers - Dryden; Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.; Glenn Research Center, Cleveland; and Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. - work together, using each center's unique expertise, to accomplish the agency's research goals. He challenged Dryden employees to "try to continue to bring the right technical projects or activity addressing the correct national challenges."
Shin reiterated that ARMD research efforts focus on four broad areas - conducting world-class research, inspiring a new-generation workforce, transitioning research to the nation to provide value to the country and leveraging NASA's world-wide capabilities through international partnerships.