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April 11, 2014

X-56A testbed arrives at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

The diminutive X-56A Multi-Use Technology Testbed, mounted on a small trailer, is pulled away from its home for the past year, Hangar 4305 at Edwards’ North Base.

The latest in a long series of experimental research aircraft, or X-planes, recently arrived at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif.

Lockheed Martin, developer of the X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed, is currently using the aircraft to explore technologies for active flutter suppression and gust load alleviation for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Multi-utility Aeroelastic Demonstration program.

The 28-foot-wingspan X-56A heads out across the lakebed behind a pickup truck. Below, technicians prepare to roll the small remotely operated research craft into its new home, Bldg. 4847 at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.

The remotely piloted airplane had been housed at Edwards Air Force Base’s North Base complex since last spring, where it was flown in a series of baseline tests involving a standard stiff wing.

Pending resolution of scheduling and technical issues, the modular X-56A will be flown this summer with a flexible wing. Once these tests are concluded, the airplane and its ground control station will be transferred to NASA for follow-on research involving enabling technologies for new kinds of lightweight, energy-efficient, flexible aircraft.

NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich




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