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Dryden Flight Research Center - Flight Research Milestones 2010 -
August 15, 2013

The Pad Abort 1 flight test has a successful separation of the crew module.The Pad Abort 1 flight test has a successful separation of the crew module. (NASA Image) 2010

Early 2010 - Initial flight tests of Aerion Corporation's flat-plate Supersonic Boundary Layer Transition test article were conducted on Dryden's F-15B Research Testbed Aircraft.

Jan. 2010 - Dryden's G-III was outfitted with a pod containing the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR). The radar collected data over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii from an altitude of about 41,000 feet.

Jan. 26 - Dryden's modified Gulfstream III aircraft, equipped with the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) added a series of science overflights of earthquake faults in Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola in response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Apr. 7 - Global Hawk No. 872 took off from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center for its first science foray over the Pacific Ocean in the Global Hawk Pacific 2010 (GloPac) science campaign.

May 6 - Dryden was the lead Center for the Pad Abort-1, in which the Orion Launch Abort System was validated. The flight was the first fully integrated test of the launch abort system design. The flight lasted about 135 seconds from launch until the crew module touchdown about a mile north of the launch pad.

May 6 - At NOAA's request, NASA sent the ER-2 outfitted with the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and the Cirrus Digital Camera System to collect detailed images of the Gulf of Mexico and its threatened coastal wetlands.

May 31 - Dryden's G-III, equipped with the L-band Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), is used for the Canadian Experiment for Soil Moisture in 2010 (CanEx-SM10).

June 21 - The Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) Mission validated NASA's use of Global Hawks for environmental science, flying 11 atmospheric monitoring instruments on the joint project of NASA and the NOAA.

June 22 - 23 - NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) flew over the Gulf of Mexico to image the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The airborne radar, built and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory flew aboard Dryden's Gulfstream-III aircraft.

July 28 - Dryden's F-15B No. 836 reached a major milestone, making its 400th NASA research flight on July 28, 2010. This distinction puts it in sole possession of the record for the most research flights ever of a single aircraft at NASA Dryden.

Aug. 2010 - The joint U.S. Air Force/NASA F-16D Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology, or ACAT, project phase led by Dryden concluded with completion of the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) flight testing.

Aug. 1 - 4 - NASA's Gulfstream III environmental research aircraft completed its brief mission to radar image volcanoes in Alaska the first week in August. The UAVSAR installed in a pod slung under the belly of the G-III imaged volcanoes in the Aleutian Island chain to detect and measure small changes in the Earth's surface of geophysical interest.

Oct 22 - NASA's DC-8, a 157-foot airborne laboratory equipped with a suite of seven instruments, began its second year of airborne surveys over Antarctica for Operation IceBridge.

Nov 30 - SOFIA made its initial science flight. Celestial targets imaged during the initial science flights included Comet Hartley, star-forming nebulae Messier 42, W3 IRS5, and Sharpless 140.


Feb. 17 - Two new supersonic shockwave probes were flown on NASA Dryden's F-15B research test bed aircraft to determine their viability as research tools.

Mar. - Apr. - A team at Dryden tested renewable biofuel made from chicken and beef tallow in one of the four engines of a Dryden DC-8 airplane.

Mar. 10 - Dryden's Global Hawk aircraft completed the third and final flight of the Winter Storms and Pacific Atmospheric Rivers, or WISPAR, field campaign. The three long-duration flights over the Pacific Ocean explored atmospheric rivers, arctic weather, and collected targeted observations designed to improve operational weather forecasts.

Apr. 6 - The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) completed its first science flight Wednesday, using the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT).

Apr. 22 - June 6 - Dryden's NASA's ER-2 aircraft was flown on the Mid-latitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E) field campaign to learn more about the inner workings of cloud systems that generate significant amounts of rainfall.

May - June - SOFIA's Basic Science program reveals a complex distribution of interstellar dust and stars in the Orion nebula. The observations were made using the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) instrument.

May 2011 - Dryden's GIII aircraft, outfitted with the UAVSAR pod, repeated the flights over the Kilauea volcano assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at Dryden. Those two sets of observations successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea's east rift zone.

May 25 - "First Light" is a ceremonial milestone in the astronomical community when photons from a celestial object officially travel down a telescope's tube for the first time. For SOFIA, first light was determined to be the first time a celestial object was imaged at altitude. In the late evening hours of May 25, infrared light that had been emitted from the red supergiant star Antares (Alpha Scorpii) 550 years ago traveled through SOFIA's telescope and was recorded on the FORCAST instrument.

June 7 - At the request of the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA conducted radar-imaging missions by its Gulfstream III environmental research aircraft over areas of the lower Mississippi River to determine the structural integrity of the levee system.

June 23 - NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) observed the dwarf planet Pluto as it passed in front of a distant star. This event, known as an "occultation," allowed scientific analysis of Pluto and its atmosphere by flying SOFIA at the right moment to an exact location where Pluto's shadow fell on Earth. This was the first demonstration in practice of one of SOFIA's major design capabilities.

July 28 - Dryden's DC-8 flying laboratory carries 20 scientists on the Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Night, Days and Seasons II, or ASCENDS II research program, over central California.

Sept. - Oct. - NASA's Beechcraft B200 Super King Air N801NA carries the Autonomous Modular Sensor, a high-tech thermal-infrared scanning instrument that can see through smoke and haze to aid fire fighters in battling wildfires.

Oct 2011 - In preparation for NASA's Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment, or ATTREX, eleven instruments were installed in equipment racks on Global Hawk No. 872. The instruments were initially tested during an Oct. 20 flight in the restricted area over Edwards Air Force Base, CA. On Oct. 28, the first of three long-duration flights headed west over the Pacific from Edwards, returning more than 21 hours later. The aircraft flew farther south than any previous Global Hawk science mission, reaching 6.5 degrees north latitude.

Oct 2011 - NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory completed its 2011 Operation IceBridge science flights over Antarctica. The IceBridge flight and science team flew a record 24 science flights during the six-week campaign, recording data from a suite of sophisticated instruments on the thickness and depth of Antarctic ice sheets and glacial movement.

Oct. 21 - 24 - Relatively good weather conditions allowed scientists aboard NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory to survey a number of sites in Antarctica during a trio of productive long-duration science flights as the Fall 2011 Operation IceBridge campaign continued.

Nov. 2011 - A new image from NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, provides the highest resolution mid-infrared image taken to date of the massive star formation region in our galaxy known as W40. The W40 image was taken by the Faint Object infraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) instrument mounted in the airborne observatory.

Nov. 5 - The 50th flight of a NASA Global Hawk was a 16-hour mission that occurred over the weekend of Nov. 5-6.

Dec. 2011 - Dryden researchers recently completed flight tests of a unique experimental jet engine inlet design in the Channeled Center-body Inlet Experiment, or CCIE. The experimental inlet was checked out on NASA Dryden's F-15B aeronautics research test bed aircraft.


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Page Last Updated: August 15th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator