High in the sky; that's the usual destination for an aircraft that called NASA Langley home for two months.

A WB-57, operated by Johnson Space Center and normally based at Ellington Field in Houston, was here until late December installing and integrating a new payload.

The WB-57 is one of only two kinds of aircraft in which crews can fly over 50,000 feet. The other is the U-2.

"We usually fly about 60,000 feet," (18,288 m) said Joe Gerky, WB-57 manager. "That's a big advantage for testing systems that are going into space or in high altitude unmanned aircraft, since they must be able to withstand the harsh conditions found there."

The WB-57 can stay aloft for an extended period of time, about six and a half hours, and has a range of approximately 2,500 miles (4,023 km).

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Page Last Updated: August 21st, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator