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A N EDUCATIONAL PUBLICATION OF T H E
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

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ORGANIZATION
SERIES

NASA Flight Research Center
EDWARDS, CALIFORNlA
Beginning with man’s attempt to fly faster than the of aircraft has become one of the most valuable
speed of sound, the National Aeronautics and Space tools of advanced aeronautical research.
Administration’s Flight Research Center has played During the past several years, the flight per-
an important role in establishing this country’s formance of the research aircraft has increased
leadership in world aeronautics. from speeds of 700 mph to 4100 mph, and from
The Flight Research Center was formerly the altitudes of 50,000 feet to more than 350,000 feet.
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ High Significantly, the performance of this country’s
Speed Flight Station. It was established in 1946 military and civilian aircraft has increased accord-
when a small group of NACA engineers and tech- ingly during this same time period.
nicians was assigned to the X-1 flight research The research aircraft previously flight tested at
program. The X-1, the first aircraft to exceed the the Flight Research Center include the X-1,
speed of sound, and the 0-558 were the first of D-558-1, X-lA, X-lB, D-558-2, X-3, X-4, X-5, X-lE,
the research airplanes initially approved by the and the XF-92A.
Congress in 1944. Since that time, the specially The current research aircraft now being flown at
designed and highly instrumented research series the Flight Research Center is the rocket-powered

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The Center is located on a vast, hard packed, dry lake bed (see upper background) in southern California.
B aircraK

Gear down, nose up, the X-15, the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft glides in at more than 200 mph for a landing.
X-15,which made its first powered flight on Sep- criteria for supersonic transports.
tember 17,1959. Since then, three different X-15 The inflight studies have been conducted primar-
aircraft have made over 150 flights in the quest for ily with the use of two special aircraft; the giant
new knowledge applicable to the design and devel- XB-70and a General Purpose Airborne Simulator
opment of future spacecraft and the advanced (GPAS) that is equipped with special control sys-
manned aircraft of tomorrow. tems and computers. These modifications give the
In addition to acquiring new inflight data, the GPAS the capability of simulating in flight the
X-15is also acting as a test-bed to carry various handling qualities and flight characteristics of the
scientific experiments to the edge of space. Some various su personic t ra nspor t configurat ions.
of these experiments include the collection of micro- Lifting bodies, wingless vehicles that obtain
meteorites, photographing various stars and flight their aerodynamic lift from the shape of their
testing of advanced systems. bodies, are also being flight tested at the Flight
The Flight Research Center is contributing to the Research Center. The lifting body concept is being
national supersonic transport program in several investigated in flight by NASA to help establish the
major areas by both ground-based and inflight technological base for the design of future manned
studies. The areas of interest are (1) vehicle design spacecraft capable of maneuvering in flight to a
and development and (2) operating problems and horizontal landing on land under pilot control.
systems requirements. This effort is designed to Initially powerless, the two lifting body configu-
provide a direct contribution of information to the rations, the M-2 and the HL-10 are air-launched
Federal Aviation Agency, the airlines, and the avia- from a B-52 flying at 45,000feet for a glide flight
tion industry t o establish the design and operating to landing. Eventually, water ballast will be added
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Spacecraft design based on wingless lifting bodies like the World's largest supersonic aircraft, XB-70, is an aerial test-
M2-F2 may enable astronauts t o select their landing site. bed for supersonic transport research and space devices.

to increase the basic weight of the vehicles. Rocket Center is a large heat laboratory capable of testing
engines have been installed for flight at high alti- large aircraft of the supersonic transport size. Uti-
tudes and airspeeds that will closely approximate lizing quartz lamps and hydraulic equipment,
the flight conditions that would be encountered by temperatures and aerodynamic loads that would be
a returning spacecraft of this type. encountered in flight can be imposed upon the test
A program designed to develop the piloting tech- aircraft while it is in the ground facility.
niques that will be used during the final phase of The Flight Research Center enjoys almost ideal
the manned lunar landing was begun at the Flight
Research Center in 1964. This program utilized a
weather for flight testing and is located at the
southern end of a 500-mile-long high-speed flight
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free flying simulator called the Lunar Landing Re- corridor. Numerous dry lake beds that are capable
search Vehicle (LLRV). To compensate for the of serving as landing areas and instrument test
gravitational and atmospheric differences between sites are located throughout this corridor. Three
the earth and the moon, the LLRV is equipped with NASA radar stations cover this flight range for data
a jet engine that produces enough thrust to counter- acquisition during the flight test activities.
balance five-sixth's of the LLRV's weight and is With these physical advantages and the experi-
designed to be as non-aerodynamic as possible. ence and ability of its personnel, the Flight Research
Small rockets are used by the pilot to control Center will continue to assist in maintaining this
horizontal and vertical movement of the LLRV in country as the world's leader in aeronautics.
much the same manner as the Lunar Module, the
actual vehicle that will land on the surface of the
moon.
New biomedical and physiological techniques and Director: Mr. Paul F. Bikle
equipment for use in future manned vehicles, both
Flight Research Center
aircraft and spacecraft, are being developed at the
Flight Research Center. Although primarily de- Natiopal Aeronautics and Space Administration
P. 0. Box 273
signed for aerospace research, these techniques
are being accepted for general clinical use. Edwards, California, 93523
One of the unique facilities at the Flight Research

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