NASA 60th: The Leading Edge of Flight

NASA 60th: The Leading Edge of Flight
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    (rapid electronic music)
    (swagger rock)
    - The design concept reduces the drag at transonic speeds,
    allows the airplane to fly faster and farther.
    - We've actually done aeronautics research
    for over 100 years; so, NASA's predecessor was
    the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
    The NACA field laboratories became part of NASA,
    and we continue that tradition.
    - They developed a lot of the theories
    with the people they had back then;
    they developed wind tunnels.
    We ran the wind tunnels actually three shifts a day
    because there was that much demand
    for the data from the companies,
    and that who we were doing it for.
    We had lady computers who reduced the data for us.
    (auxiliary engine roaring)
    - [Control] Ready to launch, now.
    (main engines blast)
    - The X-15 was in many ways the ultimate research tool.
    The very first aircraft to fly into space
    and come back and land horizontally on a runway.
    - We had to make the engine run
    in order to make the plane fly.
    It had to be dropped from altitude;
    it had to be started at altitude;
    and it had to have stable combustion.
    And we made it work.
    - It was very much an experimental,
    one of a kind laboratory in the sky
    to investigate the next great hurdle, which was hypersonics.
    And that's a problem we're still working on today.
    - So we've always been trying to go farther, faster, higher;
    that's what mankind has always wanted to do,
    to explore.
    That's what NASA does; we explore.
    And now NASA is looking at a new X-plane
    so that we can make it a little bit easier
    to get across the country, about twice as fast.
    - And the innovation there is actually
    the shape of the aircraft, so that we can
    enable supersonic flight over land,
    and that'll open up a whole new industry.
    - Here we are, looking at how do we take
    all of those things that we've learned historically,
    and place them in an aircraft
    that can actually fly faster than the speed of sound
    without creating the sonic boom.
    (sonic boom)
    And if we can accomplish that objective,
    then people all across the United States
    and in fact all across the world
    will be able to fly faster than the speed of sound
    and in fact they could fly multiple times the speed of sound
    without disrupting communities on the ground.
    We want to be at the very leading edge of technology
    when it comes to supersonic flight.
    - When you look out that window and you see that winglet,
    that was developed originally by NASA.
    There's so many things that NASA has done
    that we're with you when you fly.
    - The computers used on the Space Shuttle,
    the prototype of those computers
    were actually flown on the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire airplane.
    - 80% of the world's commercial airliner fleet today
    use that same technology in order to fly their aircraft.
    And almost all the military aircraft that are made today.
    - I remember the first time I was flying an F-18 Hornet.
    I was in a bit of turbulence,
    and I thought I was holding the airplane steady,
    and my flight controls were moving.
    Well those technologies and those capabilities
    were developed by NASA.
    - Electric propulsion really just opens up the playing field
    for what you can do with airplanes.
    Could be an air-taxi type vehicle
    or two or three, four people will travel
    across a downtown area and be able to get to a destination
    much quicker than being stuck on the freeway.
    And so it's going to create all new types of designs
    for vertical lift transitioning to forward flight,
    and the predictions are that we'll be
    three times more efficient.
    - Unmanned aircraft systems follows in a long line
    of technologies that NASA always is pursuing
    to improve the quality of life for your everyday person.
    Like, they examine bridges or buildings
    that perhaps were damaged in an earthquake,
    find out where the damage is.
    You could do that by never having
    to actually go into the building or walk on the bridge,
    so that makes it safer for people.
    (pilot speaks on radio)
    - For 60 years we've been exploring.
    We stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us.
    They figured it out and we've taken it a little bit farther.
    It's what we call pushing the envelope
    when you're a test pilot.
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