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Current Research at Armstrong
August 20, 2014

A wide range of research activities are in progress at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center at any one point in time, ranging from validation of advanced aeronautical and control systems concepts and atmospheric flight testing of future space-access technology demonstrators to Earth science experiments. Many of the projects and missions are conducted in partnership with other government agencies, academia and industry to ensure effective development and transfer of new technologies and capture of Earth and space science data to the user community.

THE ARMSTRONG FLIGHT RESEARCH CENTER, located at Edwards Air Force Base, California, is NASA's premier installation for atmospheric flight research and operations. NASA Armstrong plays a vital role in carrying out the agency's missions of space exploration, space operations, scientific discovery, and aeronautical research and development. A sampling of current and recently completed projects includes:
 

FlexSys ACTE flap technology bridges gaps in wing for a seamless surface.

Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge Flight Experiment

NASA has joined forces with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge, or ACTE, flight research project to determine if advanced flexible trailing-edge wing flaps can both improve aircraft efficiency and reduce airport-area noise generated during takeoffs and landings.

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NASA's Global Hawks on the aircraft ramp at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

Airborne Science Program Operations

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center operates seven specialized aircraft of varied capabilities to support environmental and Earth science missions under the Airborne Science Program of the agency's Science Mission Directorate. The aircraft are used as platforms for basic science research of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere over various parts of the world for the scientific community. Instruments aboard the aircraft collect information about our surroundings, including Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, oceanic processes and satellite sensor development and verification.

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DC-8 in flight

DC-8 Flying Science Laboratory

NASA operates a converted McDonnell Douglas DC-8 jetliner as a flying science laboratory. The highly modified aircraft, based at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's aircraft operations facility (Bldg. 703) in Palmdale, Calif., serves as a platform for data collection on a wide variety of experiments in support of Earth andenvironmental science projects conducgted by NASA, academia and research institutions around the world.

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ER-2 Tail Number 809 high altitude research aircraft in flight

ER-2 High-altitude Science Aircraft

NASA is using two ER-2 aircraft, a civil derivative of the military U-2S reconnaissance aircraft, on high-altitude science missions. The aircraft, based at NASA's Armstrong's aircraft operations facility (Bldg. 703) in Palmdale, Calif., collect information about our surroundings, including earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. The aircraft also are used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration, and satellite data validation.

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F-15B during Lifting Foam Trajectory flight test

F-15B Research Testbed

The F-15B Research Test Bed is a modified twin-engine jet fighter that provides NASA, industry, and universities with long-term capability for the efficient flight test of aerodynamic, instrumentation, propulsion, and other flight research experiments.The F-15B Research Test Bed is a unique airborne resource, a virtual "flying wind tunnel," among it's many capabilities.

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flight ops montage

Flight Opportunities Program

The Flight Opportunities Program,  managed by NASA Armstrong, is part of the Space Technology Program administered by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.  The program provides opportunities for promising space technologies to be demonstrated and validated on a variety of sub-orbital platforms in relevant reduced- and micro-gravity space environments so they may be matured from concept to operational use.

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One of NASA's Global Hawk unmanned science aircraft displays its bulbous nose while parked on the ramp at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

Global Hawk High-Altitude Science Aircraft

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center operates two Northrop Grumman Global Hawk autonomously operated unmanned aircraft on high-altitude, long-duration Earth science missions.

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G-III Gulfstream parked

Gulfstream III Aerodynamics Research Test Bed

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center operates a Gulfstream G-III aircraft, NASA tail number 804, as an aerodynamics research test bed as part of the Environmentally Responsible Aviation project under the Integrated Systems Research Program of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. The project seeks to explore environmentally friendly aircraft concepts by validating technologies that have matured to a point that merits evaluation at the systems level – including flight test at NASA Armstrong.

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Gulfstream on Dryden ramp

Gulfstream C-20A (G-III) Environmental Science Research Aircraft

A modified Gulfstream C-20A aircraft is being flown by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center as an Environmental Science Research Aircraft. The heavily instrumented twin-turbofan aircraft, similar to the Gulfstream III business aircraft, is equipped with a high-precision autopilot and serves as a platform for the Unmanned Air Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to gather scientific data for a wide range of geological and environmental studies.

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Ikhana in flight

Ikhana Unmanned Aircraft System

An MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft system named "Ikhana" is operated by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center for Earth science missions and advanced aeronautical technology research, including use as a testbed to develop capabilities and technologies to improve the utility of unmanned aircraft systems.

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RTE cover

Research, Technology and Engineering at NASA Armstrong

Researchers, engineers, and scientists at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center continue a long, rich legacy of creating innovative approaches to solve some of the difficult problems and challenges facing the aerospace community. The 2014 Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center Research, Technology, and Engineering Accomplishments Report presents a brief summary of the center's technology work, highlighting the agility of Armstrong to develop technologies embedded in each of NASA’s core missions and, more importantly, technologies that support missions across the entire agency.

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SOFIA 747SP in flight

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

NASA operates the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a world-class airborne observatory that complements space- and ground-based telescopes. Based at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's Bldg. 703 aircraft operations facility in Palmdale,Calif., the observatory features a German-built 2.5-meter diameter infrared telescope mounted in a highly-modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA is a joint program of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

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uas in the nas drawing showing the communication lines between several aircraft and communication devices.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center is supporting NASA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System aeronautics initiative. Also known as UAS in the NAS, this research project is designed to address operational and safety issues related to the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

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X-48B Blended Wing Body aircraft in flight

X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed

The remotely piloted X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed was developed by Lockheed Martin for the Air Force Research Laboratory to test active aeroelastic control technologies for flutter suppression and gust-load alleviation on flexible wing structures. NASA Armstrong will conduct follow-on testing with the X-56A to support research on lightweight structures and advanced control technologies for future efficient, environmentally friendly transport aircraft.

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Past Projects

 

Research Facilities

Research Facilities at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center provide its pilots, engineers, scientists, and technicians a unique and highly specialized capability to conduct flight research programs unmatched anywhere in the world. These facilities incorporate advanced and innovative processes to meet our customers' evolving requirements on time, every time. These facilties include:

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Page Last Updated: August 28th, 2014
Page Editor: Yvonne Gibbs