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NASA Facts Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

NASA Facts Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Published by Bob Andrepont
NASA Facts booklet describing Langley Research Center.
NASA Facts booklet describing Langley Research Center.

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Jan 04, 2011
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Langley Reseach
HAMPTON VIRGINIALangley Research Center, the senior field estab-lishment of the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration, was founded in 1917. During thehalf-century since, the Center has been a focal pointof our nation’s research into the problems of flightand has contributed extensively to the search forpractical solutions.In Langley’s more than
years of service to theNation, the speed of airplanes has increased fromless than 100 miles an hour to more than 4,000miles an hour, and the epoch
the exploration ofspace has begun.Langley has often been called the cradle of avia-tion in America and its developments in aeronauticshave led to consistent advances in civil and militaryaviation throughout the world. In fact, the technologywhich has led to the development of most all UnitedStates aircraft, and indeed, a noteworthy share ofAmerica’s spacecraft as well, has its origins at thisCenter.
was the first and, until 1940, the only
Aerial view showing the major facilities of the Langley Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administra-tion, Hampton, Virginia.
national laboratory for aeronautical research.Named in honor of
pioneering American sci-entist, Samuel Pierpont Langley, the research centeroccupies
acres of Atlantic Coast waterfront landin Hampton, Virginia. Professor Langley, a brilliantscientist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,is credited with the first practical demonstration ofunmanned mechanical flight. While Secretary of theSmithsonian Institution in Washington,
he builtand flew a powered model aircraft on May 6, 1896.From the beginning, research
Langley was con-ducted systematically, in ground facilities
notablywind tunnels-and in flight. Airplanes of World War
vintage were the earliest flight research tools. Thefirst Langley wind tunnel, with a test section five feetin diameter, began operating in 1920, but within adecade
was joined by a variety of new, highly spe-cialized tunnels which represented several innova-tions in research equipment design.Early Langley contributions included: the syste-matic development of airfoil shapes; full scaleresearch on propellers; the famous NACA cowling in1929; the precise engineering definition of airplanehandling qualities; research on engine cooling; thedevelopment of superchargers; refinements for air-foils with various kinds of flaps.During the Wold
period, Langley furnishedpersonnel and research techniques to found otherresearch establishments, now important parts of theNational Aeronautics and Space Administration.They include the
Aeronautical studies carried out inwind tunnels at Langley ResearchCenter, on a hypersonic (the nexthigher speed range beyond super-sonic) transport concept.
blended-body-wing model of a hypersoniccruise configured transport is beingexamined in Langley’s 20-inch Hyper-sonic Tunnel.
is being evaluatedunder rigidly controlled conditionsclosely simulating real flight.
Ames Research Center, MoffettField, California; the Lewis Research Center, Cleve-land, Ohio; the Flight Research Center,Edwards,California; and Wallops Station, Wallops Island,Virginia.All comprised the nucleus around which NASAwas formed on October
1958, and all continue toprovide essential research to meet the national goalsin space and aeronautics.The engineering skills and expertise of Langleyand other NACA research laboratories were whollydevoted during World War
to making
militaryairplanes superior in every respect. Langley windtunnels worked around the clock to add to fighterplane speeds by reducing drag. Critical designproblems of engine cooling and cowling were
tackled and solved.The emphasis on speed brought aeronautics to thethreshold of supersonic flight, and led to
jointNASA-military program to build and fly airplanesspecifically intended to produce research informa-tion. One
these -the Bell
-first accom-plished supersonic flight in 1947.Langley also led the way in developing the slottedwall wind tunnel for transonic research, and with
came the “area ruleaircraft design concept forreducing transonic drag.The supersonic transport program which theUnited States is now pursuing had many of its originsin a concentrated Langley research effort to develop
and refine the aeronautical technology needed tomake such aircraft efficient and versatile. The vari-able sweep principles used in the SST design weredevised and patented by Langley scientists, and thewind tunnels and other facilities at the Center havecontributed many hours of research to ensuresuccess for the project.Today, Langley’s aeronautical research includesinvestigations of current and future concepts forhypersonic flight vehicles and their propulsionsystems; supersonic aircraft of advanced design;helicopters and VTOL-STOL aircraft-subjects of ex-perimentation at Langley since the late 1940’s-leading to the development of a vehicle combiningvertical or short take-off and landing capability withthe good performance and handling qualities of aconventional airplane in cruising flight; and the im-provement of subsonic aircraft with particular refer-ence to the operating problems of transports.Timely research at Langley made
possible forNASA to undertake plans for manned space flight inProject Mercury, the Nation’s first manned spaceflight effort, only a few days after the founding
the agency in 1958. Personnel drawn from theLangley Research Center formed the Space TaskGroup which managed the Mercury program andlater established the NASA Manned SpacecraftCenter at Houston, Texas.Research at Langley contributed similarly to thesuccessful Gemini program, and is continuing tosupport Project Apollo. For example, the simulationcapabilities developed at Langley made possible theearly (1962) selection of the lunar orbit rendezvousmode to be used for the Apollo mission. Other simu-lation studies prepared for the successful demon-stration of rendezvous and docking in space,
exemplified by the Gemini program.Continuing studies in reduced gravity simulationare preparing for the development of improvedtechniques for extra-vehicular activity
Since the inception of the Apollo program engineers and scientists have been studying what effect the moon’s lowgravitational field
bout one-sixth that of earth’s
might have on an astronaut’s ability to walk, run, and performother tasks. A simulation technique (Reduced Gravity Simulator) developed by the Langley Research Center,
used tosimulate lunar gravity. The test subject
a pressure suit is supported in the simulator by a system of slings, cables, anda trolley which is accelerated by and moves along with the subject as he walks, jumps, or runs. The facility
operated instudies of a variety of factors such
fatigue limit of the subject, energy expenditure and speed of locomotion as affectedby lunar soil properties and surface slope.

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