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New Explorers Energized By Visit to NASA Dryden
New astronaut class in front of X-15 model Following on the heels of a milestone X-43A scramjet flight, astronaut candidates from NASA's newest class visited the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center on Nov. 17, 2004.

Image right: NASA's new astronaut class takes a moment to smile for the camera in front of an X-15 model at NASA Dryden on Nov. 17, 2004. NASA photo by Tom Tschida.

The fledgling astronauts viewed advanced aeronautics projects at NASA Dryden such as the F-15B Research Testbed aircraft currently being readied to possibly support NASA's Space Shuttle return to flight effort and for future sonic boom reduction flight experiments. Flight simulation lab facilities were included on the tour, in which the group took turns piloting research aircraft simulators. In addition to other research projects visited, the enthusiastic candidates were treated to a tour of NASA's venerable B-52B mothership aircraft, which is retiring after completing its last research mission, launching the third X-43A on Nov. 16, 2004.

Image below: NASA Dryden research pilot Dick Ewers describes flight research projects to visiting astronaut class. The solar-powered Pathfinder-Plus aircraft is in the background. NASA photo by Tom Tschida.

Pilot Dick Ewers describes flight research to visiting astronauts. These new explorers will be the first astronauts focused from the very beginning on realizing NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. The class includes pilots, mission specialists and three new mission specialist-educator astronauts, teachers who will help ensure there will always be a next generation primed to explore.

Gray Creech
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center