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The Warm Glow of Mach 3

The YF-12 forebody radiant heating system testing is captured in this striking image from 1971.
A heating component of a YF-12 supersonic aircraft is tested in a NASA laboratory in the 1970s.

The Flight Loads Laboratory at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is celebrating 50 years. It sprang into existence during the era of the X-15 rocket plane and the YF-12 and SR-71 Blackbirds, and was dedicated to testing the latest in high-speed flight.

In this image from 1971, the YF-12 forebody’s radiant heating system is being tested at the Flight Loads Laboratory under conditions experienced at Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, over 2,000 miles an hour. Eventually the entire airframe was tested in the lab, always with the goal to collect data, validate parts and reduce risk to the aircraft and the pilots who flew them.

Read More About the Flight Loads Laboratory Anniversary

Read About Modern Aeronautics Testing in the Flight Loads Laboratory



Last Updated
Sep 13, 2023
Lillian Gipson