NASA´s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, has begun celebrating 70 years of atmospheric flight research operations, starting with airing a video on NASA television, the administration said.
Initially focused on experimental aircraft called X-planes, flight research with the X-15 rocket plane offered the opportunity to assist with the space mission of NASA. The following decades saw Armstrong´s mission expanded to include roles in the space shuttle program, aviation safety, airborne science and technology advancement. In addition, a NASA 747SP aircraft based at the center carries an airborne infrared telescope named SOFIA, Stratospheric Observatory to Infrared Astronomy.
Armstrong said it is returning to the age of X-planes with NASA´s electric propulsion aircraft, named the X-57. That aircraft could lead to advances in fuel efficiency and reductions in noise and emissions. In addition, 70 years after coming to the desert outpost to test the first X-plane to reach flight supersonically, the center is pursuing research that could lead to another fast but quieter X-plane.