Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Newest Unmanned Aircraft Makes Successful First Flight

Date:
June 10, 2003
Source:
NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center
Summary:
A milestone in the development of high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely operated aircraft occurred with the successful flight of NASA's Altair. Altair is the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to feature triple-redundant flight systems and avionics for increased reliability.

June 9, 2003 -- A milestone in the development of high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely operated aircraft occurred today with the successful flight of NASA's Altair. Altair is the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to feature triple-redundant flight systems and avionics for increased reliability.

The slender-wing aircraft lifted off the runway at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' Inc. (GA-ASI) flight test facility at El Mirage, Calif. The purpose of the historic first flight was to evaluate the UAV's basic airworthiness and flight controls. After the successful test flight, Altair glided to a landing on the remote desert runway. The entire flight was conducted at low altitude within a relatively short range of the El Mirage flight test facility.

"This is what we've been waiting for," said Glenn Hamilton, Altair project manager at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Edwards, Calif. "Now we can move forward with getting UAVs into the national airspace and conducting research," he said.

Thomas J. Cassidy, president and chief executive officer of San Diego-based GA-ASI, echoed Hamilton's comments. "Altair's first flight is a culmination of 10 years of experience in building reliable unmanned aircraft based on a common design philosophy," Cassidy said. "I am very proud of our design, manufacturing and flight-readiness teams for their dedication to a high performance level of excellence."

Built to performance specifications established by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, Altair is an extended-wing version of the MQ-9 Predator B military UAV being developed under a partnership with GA-ASI. Altair is one of several UAVs designed for civil applications that have been developed or matured under the Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program at DFRC.

After initial airworthiness test flights, Altair will serve as the avionics test aircraft for the production version of the MQ-9 before being transferred to NASA. At DFRC, Altair will first be used to evaluate various new control communications and collision-avoidance technologies that are critical to enabling UAVs to fly safely in national airspace.

Eventually NASA will use Altair for a variety of environmental science missions, such as volcanic observation, forest fire monitoring and atmospheric sampling. The UAV may be ideal for missions that are often too dangerous, difficult or lengthy for manned aircraft. UAVs are uniquely positioned to perform long missions that have repetitive routines.

Altair is expected to be the first UAV to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements to operate from conventional airports, with piloted aircraft, in the national airspace. In addition to triple-redundant avionics, Altair is configured with a fault-tolerant, dual-architecture flight control system. The UAV will be equipped with an automated collision-avoidance system and an air traffic control voice relay. The relay allows air-traffic controllers to talk to ground-based Altair pilots through the aircraft.

Command and control of the Altair, as well as research data gathered by the UAV, will be transmitted through an "over the horizon" satellite link. The link will also allow scientists to receive research information as soon as Altair obtains it.

Altair has been designed to fly continuously for up to 32 hours. It can reach an altitude of approximately 52,000 feet and has a maximum range of about 4,200 miles. Altair can carry up to 750 pounds of sensors, radar, communications and imaging equipment in its forward fuselage. The Altair is 34 feet long, with a wingspan of 86 feet, 22 feet longer than Predator B. A 700 horsepower, rear-mounted turboprop engine powers Altair with a three-blade controllable-pitch propeller. NASA and GA-ASI are jointly funding development of the Altair and Predator B prototypes under the ERAST program. GA-ASI built Altair's predecessor, the Altus 2.

For video footage of the test flight, call 661/276-2665. Photos are available at:

http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/Altair_PredatorB/index.html

For information about NASA and aerospace programs on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center. "NASA's Newest Unmanned Aircraft Makes Successful First Flight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030610080849.htm>.
NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center. (2003, June 10). NASA's Newest Unmanned Aircraft Makes Successful First Flight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030610080849.htm
NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center. "NASA's Newest Unmanned Aircraft Makes Successful First Flight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030610080849.htm (accessed July 21, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins