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Volume 46 | Issue 7 | August 2004


photo: Helios Prototype-class aircraft.

A Helios Prototype-class aircraft may be the type of platform that performs the high-altitude, long-endurance missions identified as key to future science missions and private-sector work. NASA Photo / Carla Thomas

UAV Program Elements at Dryden

As UAVs play a larger and larger role in aerospace activity, so too will Dryden see more and more project work resulting from that increase. Here are the five areas of interest Dryden leaders have identified that will allow the Center to effectively carry out research missions anticipated for the immediate future.

High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Remotely Operated Aircraft platform capabilities - Focuses on design tools and development of UAVs required for missions of the future. John Del Frate is project manager.

Earth Science Mission Capabilities - Looks at enhancing existing UAV platform capabilities with such mission-specific technologies as precision trajectory and formations and mission demonstrations using UAVs like Altair, Global Hawk and Proteus. Frank Cutler is project manager, and Chris Nagy will play a key role in this area and many others as Dryden's UAV chief technologist. This project is a jointly funded partnership between the NASA aeronautics research and science mission directorates.

High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Remotely Operated Aircraft in the National Airspace System - Jeff Bauer is project manager for these efforts aimed at gaining routine access to the national airspace for high-altitude, long-endurance remotely operated aircraft. Sharing national airspace with piloted vehicles will require technology equipping UAVs to see, detect and avoid other aircraft as well as contingency management and certification standards recommendations to the FAA for high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft that are remotely operated.

Optionally Piloted Vehicles - Focuses on the need for UAV transitional capabilities, integrated science campaign elements and a multi-agency business model. Frank Cutler is acting project manager. This sector is Dryden's primary area of responsibility within the Suborbital Science Program. The OPV platform is an example of future experimental platform developments for the Earth sciences.

National Security Partnerships - Examines the potential for continuing work such as that of Dryden's support role on the X-45A, work on autonomous refueling of UAVs and work on common operating systems for future UAV models.

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