NASA Formally Dedicates Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. (NASA PR) — Two aerospace legends and their families were honored at a formal dedication ceremony May 13, marking the rededication of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, formerly the Dryden Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Legislation passed Congress in January to rename the center after the late Neil A. Armstrong, a former research test pilot at the center and the first man to step on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Armstrong flew research aircraft, including the rocket-powered X-15s, during his seven-year tenure at the center from 1955 through 1962.

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Video of F-18 Flyover During NASA Armstrong Dedication Ceremony

An F-18 flies over the crowd during the formal dedication ceremony for the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. Formerly named after the late NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden, the center was renamed earlier this year after Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program Looks to Busy 2014

An exterior camera on the forward portion of UP Aerospace' SL-8 sounding rocket captures this spectacular view of the Earth's horizon during its flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico for NASA's Flight Opportunities Program last November. (Credit: UP Aerospace)
An exterior camera on the forward portion of UP Aerospace’ SL-8 sounding rocket captures this spectacular view of the Earth’s horizon during its flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program last November. (Credit: UP Aerospace)
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate accomplished its busiest year in 2013 since its inception in late 2010, and 2014 promises to be even busier.

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Witt: 2014 Going to be a Great Year in Mojave

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air & Space Port New Year’s Greeting
By Stuart O. Witt

Happy New Year!

On January 1, 1914 America entered the commercial air service arena with a flight that lasted just a few minutes and carried one passenger sitting on a wood seat across a short distance in south Florida. Today millions of passengers will board commercial aircraft and statistically all will reach their destination safely, in large part because of the robust industry in which we are a central participant.

Things occurred in the first 100 years of commercial air travel that no one could have predicted 100, 80 or even 70 years ago. If you asked anyone in 1925, “Within the next 70 years will people board a pressurized aircraft powered by jet engines and be fed steak and lobster, watch the latest movies or television while talking via telephone to their home or office?” they would have laughed in your face. But it did happen and the quality of life for all people has grown exponentially with our industry.

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Get Used to Saying NASA Armstrong

Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, left, and Neil A. Armstrong, right. (Credit; NASA)
Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, left, and Neil A. Armstrong, right. (Credit; NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Barack Obama has signed HR 667, the congressional resolution that redesignates NASA’s Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, into law. The resolution also names Dryden’s Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Both Hugh Dryden and Neil Armstrong are aerospace pioneers whose contributions are historic to NASA and the nation as a whole. NASA is developing a timeline to implement the name change.

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NASA Dryden to be Renamed After Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base will be renamed after the late Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong under a measure that has unanimously passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The measure, which now goes to President Barack Obama for signature, would rename the Western Aeronautical Test Range at Edwards the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Dryden served as NASA deputy administrator from 1958 to 1965.

“I’m honored that the Senate has passed my legislation, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature that recognizes the rich history of Neil Armstrong and Hugh Dryden in Kern County and the Antelope Valley,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who sponsored the bill. “As we reflect on the achievements and legacy of these great Americans, it is exciting to see our region continue to lead the way in innovation in space exploration and aeronautical research and scientific discovery.”

McCarthy represents California’s 23rd Congressional District, which includes NASA Dryden and Edwards Air Force Base. Armstrong, who died in 2012, worked as a test pilot at the desert facility, where he conducted major testing on the X-15 rocket plane.

McCarthy had eight co-sponsors of the measure, including Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, a Republican who represents California’s 25th Congressional District that includes the southern part of the Antelope Valley where Edwards and NASA Dryden are located.

Steve Knight Weighs Run for Congress

State Sen. Steve Knight
State Sen. Steve Knight

California State Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), a key supporter of commercial space, says he will run for Congress next year in the 25th District should the current office holder, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), decides to retire, the Antelope Valley Press reported today.

McKeon, 75, has not announced his plans, but there is widespread speculation in political circles that he will elect to step down next year rather than seek another two-year term, the newspaper reported.

The state senator, whose father William J. “Pete” Knight flew the X-15 rocket plane, has been a key backer of commercial space measures in the California Legislature. He introduced a limited liability bill designed to protect commercial space providers from passenger lawsuits that was approved with revisions. He also has introduced several other commercial space bills now being considered by legislators.

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Algorithms + F/A-18 Jet = Vital Testing for SLS Flight Control System

An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions NASA's Space Launch System may experience as it makes its way from the launch pad to space. (Credit: NASA/Dryden)
An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions NASA’s Space Launch System may experience as it makes its way from the launch pad to space. (Credit: NASA/Dryden)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Raise your hand if, in a math class, you ever said, “When will I ever use this in my life?”

Four young engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., can answer that question: They are using math to develop algorithms, or complex step-by-step equations, that can make an F/A-18 fighter jet fly like the Space Launch System (SLS) — NASA’s next heavy-lift launch vehicle.

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Dream Chaser Approach & Landing Test: Approach Good, Landing Not

Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation
Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Statement
Oct. 26, 2013

Today, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) performed its first free-flight approach-and-landing test of the Dream Chaserspacecraft. The vehicle successfully released from its carrier aircraft, an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter, as planned at approximately 11:10 a.m. Pacific Standard [sic] Time. Following release, the Dream Chaser spacecraft automated flight control system gently steered the vehicle to its intended glide slope. The vehicle adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile. Less than a minute later, Dream Chaser smoothly flared and touched down on Edwards Air Force Base’s Runway 22L right on centerline. While there was an anomaly with the left landing gear deployment, the high-quality flight and telemetry data throughout all phases of the approach-and-landing test will allow SNC teams to continue to refine their spacecraft design. SNC and NASA Dryden are currently reviewing the data. As with any space flight test program, there will be anomalies that we can learn from, allowing us to improve our vehicle and accelerate our rate of progress. Please continue to monitor, www.SNCDreamChaser.com, for more information.

Dream Chaser Flips Over After Landing

Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation
Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

NASASpaceflight.com reports that a test flight of the Dream Chaser min-shuttle went awry earlier today at Edwards Air Force Base in California:

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser ETA (Engineering Test Article) conducted her maiden flight at the Dryden Flight Research Center on Saturday. However, the Commercial Crew prospect – after enjoying a perfect flight in the air – suffered a mechanical failure during landing, resulting in her flipping over on the runway….

During the test on Saturday, all systems performed admirably during the free flight.

However, via what is being classed as a mechanical failure of the left landing gear (failure to deploy), the ETA lost control when “weight on wheels”, and flipped over on the runway.

Notably, the main landing gear on the ETA is not the same as what set to be employed on future Dream Chasers.

The vehicle was dropped from a helicopter. There’s no word on how much damage the Dream Chaser ETA suffered.

Flight Simulator Prepped for Dream Chaser Drop Tests

dreamchasercanopy_flightsim
Credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich

Simulation technicians Brent Bieber, left, and Dennis Pitts install a boilerplate Dream Chaser canopy structure over the cockpit of a flight simulator in the simulation laboratory at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California. The modification will give Dream Chaser pilot-astronauts a more representative view of the actual flight profiles the spacecraft would fly during piloted approach and landing tests. Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems division is conducting uncrewed captive- and free-flight approach and landing tests of its Dream Chaser at Dryden during the summer and fall. Photo credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich

Sierra Nevada Completes Second Dream Chaser Captive-Carry Test

Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation
Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo., successfully completed a captive-carry test of the Dream Chaser spacecraft Thursday, Aug. 22, at the agency’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.

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Watch Dream Chaser Roll Down the Runway

Video Caption: Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) put its Dream Chaser flight vehicle through a series of ground tests at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The 10, 20, 40 and 60 mile per hour range and taxi tow tests along concrete runways are helping the company assess the performance of the winged vehicle’s braking and landing systems.

SNC’s ongoing development work supports its funded Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) during the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) phase. SNC currently is one of three companies working with NASA during CCiCap to return a national capability to launch astronauts to low-Earth orbit from U.S. soil.

Dream Chaser Completes Tow Tests at NASA Dryden

Dream Chaser undergoing a tow test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser undergoing a tow test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sparks, Nev., August 13, 2013 (SNC PR) — Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the completion of the Dream Chaser® Space System tow testing at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. The ground tow tests were conducted in preparation for the upcoming approach and landing test scheduled for the third quarter 2013.

The tow tests were performed in preparation for pre-negotiated, paid-for-performance milestones with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is facilitating U.S. companies’ development of spacecraft and rockets that can launch from American soil.

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JPL Tests Flight Control System on Masten Xombie Vehicle

A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif., ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port on a test for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The vehicle is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing experimental rocket. It is being used in collaboration with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to evaluate performance of JPL's Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance (G-FOLD), a new algorithm for planetary pinpoint landing of spacecraft. Image (Credit: NASA/Masten)
A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif., ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port on a test for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The vehicle is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing experimental rocket. It is being used in collaboration with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to evaluate performance of JPL’s Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance (G-FOLD), a new algorithm for planetary pinpoint landing of spacecraft. Image (Credit: NASA/Masten)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — A year after NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s landed on Mars, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are testing a sophisticated flight-control algorithm that could allow for even more precise, pinpoint landings of future Martian spacecraft.

Flight testing of the new Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance algorithm – G-FOLD for short – for planetary pinpoint landing is being conducted jointly by JPL engineers in cooperation with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif., using Masten’s XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing experimental rocket.
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