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Kathy Barnstorff
NASA Langley Research Center
(Phone: 757/864-9886)
RELEASE : 05-069
NASA Honors Innovations With Special Awards

The team that built the world's fastest vehicle powered by an air-breathing engine has won top recognition at a NASA ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio. A list of aerospace advances for the year 2005 singled out that project and other innovations developed at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

The Hyper-X Program team, which built the X-43A hypersonic aircraft, received the NASA Administrator’s Award at the Turning Goals into Reality 2005 ceremony.

NASA's unmanned X-43A zoomed its way into the Guinness World Records book on November 16, 2004 as the fastest vehicle powered by an air-breathing engine. The X-43A reached Mach 9.6 or about 7,000 miles an hour during the flight, covering about two miles each second.

The X-43A was carried to 109,000 feet by a modified Pegasus rocket that was launched from a B-52B research aircraft. Once the aircraft separated from the booster, the air-breathing scramjet engine took over so the X-43A could make a ten-second powered flight above the Pacific Ocean.

Langley led the project and developed much of the hypersonic technology that made the flight possible. NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., led the flight test portion, including hardware integration and data collection.

NASA Langley engineers also received honors for two other projects: Synthetic Vision and Small Aircraft Transportation System research.

Synthetic Vision addresses the single largest contributing factor in fatal airline and general aviation crashes worldwide: limited visibility. NASA Langley engineers and their industry partners are developing advanced cockpit displays that will give pilots another set of eyes on the ground and in the air.

Using a Gulfstream V jet, researchers tested a Synthetic Vision System at Reno/Tahoe International Airport during the summer of 2004. The tests featured an integrated system that provided flight crews with a 3-dimensional perspective of the terrain while in flight, an electronic moving map of the area approaching the airport, a runway traffic alerting system, advanced sensor information and database integrity monitoring software.

Synthetic Vision technologies will not only improve aviation safety, they’ll also help increase efficiency at airports by giving pilots a clear and accurate picture of what’s outside, no matter what the weather or time of day

A third initiative singled out for honors is the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS). The vision of the SATS project is to give Americans more personalized travel options without having to use crowded major airports.

In June 2005, the SATS project demonstrated operating capabilities at Danville Regional Airport in Danville, Va., that will give pilots enough information that they can fly safely and easily, even in bad weather, into airfields that don’t have an air traffic control tower or terminal radar.

The public-private partnership between NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Consortium for Aviation Mobility used technologies already being developed to show that a new class of aircraft called very light jets and other advanced small planes may be able use small neighborhood airports to fly people, on demand, from place to place.

For more information about the Turning Goals into Reality 2005 awards please check the Internet at:

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