Tech

February 19, 2014

Flight Opportunities Program busy in 2013; even more so in 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.

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.

The program enabled flight validation of 35 technologies that were tested in space-like environments on four different flight platforms during the year. There were five parabolic flight campaigns on the Zero-G airplane, five flights of the Near Space Corporation’s high-altitude balloon, four vertical takeoff, vertical landing flights on vehicles from Masten Space Systems and two launches on suborbital rockets provided by UP Aerospace, Inc.

The Flight Opportunities Program, managed by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif., will be funding numerous flights by sub-orbital vehicles and aircraft during 2014 to flight-validate a variety of technologies that could prove useful to NASA and other agencies for future space exploration missions. At this time, 19 parabolic and 17 sub-orbital payloads have been manifested for flight. Up to 29 additional payloads could be flown, once they are ready for flight or a launch vehicle is available.

A Near Space Corporation balloon lifts the firm’s small HASS shuttle glider during a test flight in 2013.

Current flight providers include UP Aerospace (sounding rockets), Near Space Corporation (high-altitude balloons, the HASS glider), Masten Space Systems (rocket-propelled vertical-launch, vertical-landing vehicles), Zero-G Corporation (modified Boeing 727 aircraft for reduced-gravity parabolic flights) and Virgin Galactic (SpaceShipTwo rocket-propelled horizontal landing sub-orbital vehicle). The Flight Opportunities Program will be issuing a new contract for flight providers this year.

Among the earliest technology flight validations on the 2014 schedule is an automated spacecraft landing system payload from Astrobotic Technology Inc. of Pittsburgh that is tentatively slated to be tested on Masten Space Systems XA-0.1B “Xombie” suborbital reusable launch vehicle in February. Astrobotic’s landing system may enable future unmanned spacecraft to land on the moon or the rocky and hazardous terrain of an asteroid.

Following completion of sub-orbital flight testing, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is tentatively scheduled to carry technology payloads for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program later this year.
 

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie technology demonstration test bed ascends into the Mojave Desert sky from the Mojave Air and Space Port during a March 2013 flight to validate Draper Labs’ GENIE flight control system.

 

A camera mounted atop the left vertical fin of Virgin Galactic / Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo captures the vehicle gliding through the upper atmosphere after its rocket engine is shut down during a 2013 test flight. The Earth’s horizon can be seen at lower right.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
afrl-sensors

Sensors Directorate co-sponsors autonomous aerial vehicle competition

Members from the University of Toledo, Ohio, team make adjustments to their multirotor aircraft prior to the autonomous aerial vehicle competition. The Air Force Research Laboratory Sensors Directorate hosted the event April 28...
 
 
NASA photograph by David C. Bowman

NASA’s Langley Research Center named Vertical Flight Heritage Site

NASA photograph by David C. Bowman In a May 8ceremony, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, was formally designated a Vertical Flight Heritage Site by the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International. F...
 
 
NASA/Boeing image

NASA wraps up first green aviation tests on Boeing ecoDemonstrator

NASA/Boeing image NASA’s recent green aviation tests included the Active Flow Control Enhanced Vertical Tail Flight Experiment, for which 31 tiny devices called sweeping jet actuators were installed on the tail of a Boein...
 

 
onr-locust

LOCUST: Autonomous, swarming UAVs fly into the future

A new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations is on the horizon, as officials at the Office of Naval Research announced April 14 recent technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) ...
 
 
NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich

Second X-56A MUTT makes first flight

NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich NASA researchers are using the X-56A, a low-cost, modular, remotely piloted aerial vehicle, to explore the behavior of lightweight, flexible aircraft structures. Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Schaefer takes command of 412th Test Wing

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., Air Force Test Center commander (left), presents the 412th Test Wing guidon to Brig. Gen. Carl Schaefer signifying the beginning of his new command at the 412th ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>