This fascinating DVD follows Dryden's cutting edge developments over the past 60 years. It includes incredible footage of the many X planes, experimental aircraft, space vehicles and more that have come out of the efforts of Dryden. The documentary runs 1 hour 14 minutes and includes the following sections:
- The Early X-Plane Era
- The X-15 Era
- The Lifting Body Era
- The Space Shuttle Era
- The High Alpha and Thrust Vectoring Era
- The Technology Demonstration Era
Here are some sample clips from the DVD
More about Dryden and its history:
The Dryden Flight Research Center, NASA's premier installation for atmospheric flight research, is chartered to research, develop, verify and transfer advanced aeronautics, space and related technologies and conduct atmospheric Earth and space science flight operations. The center is named in honor of Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, who served as director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA's predecessor organization, and later as deputy administrator of NASA.
NASA Dryden's history dates back to late 1946, when 13 engineers and technicians from the NACA's Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory came to Muroc Army Air Base (now Edwards Air Force Base) in southern California's high desert to prepare for the first supersonic research flights by the X-1 rocket plane in a joint NACA, Army Air Forces and Bell Aircraft research program. NASA Dryden is a tenant organization at Edwards, which is located adjacent to Rogers Dry Lake, and at 44 square miles is the largest dry lakebed in the world. The center flies a variety of specialized research aircraft within a 20,700-square mile restricted airspace test range.
The center is associated with many important technological milestones in aviation and space access: supersonic and hypersonic flight, digital fly-by-wire control systems, supercritical and forward-swept wings, and the space shuttles. NASA Dryden was also where the Apollo program's Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, the famed X-15 rocket plane, and the wingless lifting bodies were tested during the 1960s and 70s. Dryden continues to conduct projects that support NASA's aeronautics research by contributing to revolutionary advances in aeronautic technologies, improved safety and security for global civil aviation, access to space, and Earth and space science missions. A sampling of current and recent projects includes:
- Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle: Dryden is playing a significant role in the development of this next-generation spacecraft, including conducting preliminary definition and planning for CEV launch abort systems tests, drop tests, landing and recovery tests, re-entry and landing profiles, range safety requirements and integration, flight test support and independent analysis.
- Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA): NASA Dryden is conducting science systems installation and integration and flight testing of SOFIA a world-class airborne observatory complementing the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes. The observatory features a German-built 98.4-inch (2.5 meter) diameter infrared telescope weighing 20 metric tons mounted in a highly-modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA is a joint program by NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Once operational, SOFIA will be the world's primary infrared observatory for up to 20 years.
- Intelligent Flight Control System: This project is validating the application of "self-learning" neural network software to aircraft digital flight control computers, using a highly modified NF-15B aircraft.
- X-43A/Hyper-X: NASA's 12-foot-long unmanned X-43A hypersonic research aircraft became the first scramjet-powered aircraft to fly freely. Scramjet engines hold the potential to increase payload capacity for future hypersonic vehicles by consuming ambient oxygen for combustion rather than having to carry an oxidizer on board, as rocket engines require. In March 2004, the second X-43A flew at Mach 7, or about 5,000 mph, for 11 seconds, a world record for air-breathing propulsion. That record was surpassed in November 2004, when the third X-43A flight demonstration sustained flight at nearly Mach 10, close to 7,000 mph.
- Active Aeroelastic Wing: This Air Force Research Laboratory-funded project demonstrated roll control provided by active control of wing flexibility on a modified F/A-18 at transonic and supersonic speeds - a modern outgrowth of the "wing warping" technique used by the Wright brothers to maneuver their first aircraft.
- Earth Science: Dryden supports data collection for the scientific community with two high-flying ER-2s, a civil variant of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, on specialized atmospheric sampling, environmental imaging and sensor validation missions around the globe.
- Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology: Pioneered aeronautic, propulsion and control technologies for tomorrow's high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, the "atmospheric satellites" that will serve as environmental science or telecommunications relay platforms.
- Space Shuttle support: NASA Dryden continues to support NASA's human space flight program as an alternate landing site for the space shuttle orbiters. Dryden has been the site of 50 space shuttle landings since the first orbital flight in April 1981, most recently the landing of shuttle orbiter Discovery at the end of mission STS-114 in August 2005. After an Edwards landing, orbiters are serviced at Dryden for ferry flights back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop one of NASA's two modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Dryden was also the site of the approach-and-landing tests of the prototype orbiter Enterprise in 1977.
Along with research and support aircraft, Dryden assets include a high-temperature and loads-calibration laboratory; aircraft flight instrumentation capability; a flow visualization facility to study airflow patterns; a data-analysis facility to process flight research data; and remotely piloted vehicle flight research expertise. Dryden's Research Aircraft Integration Facility (RAIF) simultaneously checks aircraft flight controls, avionics, electronics and other systems. The only facility of its type in NASA, the RAIF is designed to accelerate and enhance systems integration and preflight checks on research aircraft.
From a handful of engineers who established the center in the late 1940s, Dryden now employs approximately 950 government and contractor personnel. Its FY 2007 NASA budget is about $183 million.