Now boarding: All aeronautics fans to tour NASA Armstrong virtually

NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich

The final stop of the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center Tour offers virtual-visitors the opportunity to view some of the center’s small Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles; aircraft used in various flight research missions at NASA.

It is now possible to experience NASA’s premier flight research center through a new 3-D virtual tour, giving users a first-class seat to the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.

Located in Edwards, Calif., Armstrong is NASA’s lead center for atmospheric flight research, operations and testing. Armstrong’s efforts focus on research that will accelerate our understanding in science, aeronautics and exploration. Armstrong’s employees enhance our nation’s technical knowledge through inspiring students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) careers and by exploring innovative engineering practices, as well as contributing to our economic vitality and stewardship of Earth.

A tour of Armstrong is an experience deeply rooted in the history surrounding aeronautic research within NASA and the nation — an opportunity now offered to the public.  

“While our geographic location is perfect for flight research, it can be challenging for the public to get access to our center,” shared Kevin Rohrer, NASA Armstrong’s chief of Strategic Communications. “This virtual tour opens our doors for anyone to get a glimpse inside our center.”

The experience presents users with the sight of several aircraft and facilities that make up the foundation of NASA Armstrong. As individuals enter the tour, they are virtually transported to a 360 degree-view of NASA’s historical static aircraft. Once inside NASA’s main entrance, visitors can explore Armstrong’s primary aircraft hangar, home to NASA’s F/A-18s, used in supersonic research testing, and other research aircraft used for mission support.

Visitors of the NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Google Expedition will begin their virtual tour by viewing some of NASA’s iconic static aircraft. In this image, users have the opportunity to see NASA’s SR-71 — aircraft which were used by NASA at different times during the 1990s as test beds for high-speed and high-altitude aeronautical research.

Visitors are then guided to one of the mission control centers, where engineers and technicians closely monitor critical data from research aircraft and maintain steady communications with flight crews during flight testing and operations. The tour concludes with a close-up view of just a few of NASA’s small unmanned aerial vehicles, a fleet of drone aircraft that test new aeronautical research concepts, investigate capabilities toward allowing drones to one day integrate into the National Airspace System and possibly enable flight in Mars’ atmosphere.

The virtual tour of Armstrong offers a unique and educational experience to viewers of all ages. According to Rohrer, “I think it will be especially appealing for teachers and students interested in better understanding aircraft and flight research. The virtual tour is easy to navigate and includes prompts for teachers to use when using it in the classroom.”

With Google Expeditions, a free immersive app, visitors of the Armstrong Expedition can also virtually tour NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy or SOFIA aircraft, in addition to tours of the surface of Mars, as captured by NASA rovers, and the Modern Figures Expedition, a virtual tour highlighting women in STEM.

The Google Expeditions app is available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store. Users can search for the tour under, “NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.” For more information, visit   

Now boarding all rows –  your visit to NASA Armstrong is only a click away!