SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS FLIGHT TEST TEAM HONORED.
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE -- The Society of Flight Test Engineers honored the joint NASA, Air Force and contractor team that conducted the flight test program for the X-43A hypersonic research aircraft.
The X-43A researchers are the first recipients of the James S. McDonnell Team Award, presented recently at the Lancaster-based society's 37th annual International Symposium awards banquet in Reno, Nev.
The award was established to honor team achievement in flight test engineering. It is named for the founder of McDonnell Aircraft Corp., now part of the Boeing Co.
The award was presented by SFTE President John Minor.
It was accepted on behalf of the team by Paul Reukauf, former deputy project manager of the X-43A flight testing and currently hypersonics associate project manager at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, and Charles Nichols, also of NASA Dryden; David Warner of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base; and Lowell Keel, Dale McKill and Edward Poole from ATK GASL, Inc., of Tullahoma, Tenn.
The X-43A, developed under NASA's Hyper-X program managed by the Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., tested a supersonic-combustion ramjet (``scramjet'') engine during two research flights off the coast of Southern California in 2004. The first sustained speeds approaching Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound, the second reached almost Mach 10.
``The SFTE created this new award in 2006 to honor major accomplishments of outstanding flight test teams,'' said Minor, who is also the technical director for the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards. ``This award carries with it national level recognition; the winners will have their team name engraved on a trophy displayed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.''
Reukauf noted that the X-43A project was the first flight of a scramjet engine, a technology that had been explored for almost a half-century.
``Scramjet engines had been operated in wind tunnels since the 1950s, but had never been flown in free flight, fully integrated to a hypersonic-shaped airframe,'' he said.
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center led X-43A flight testing, with assistance from NASA Langley, the Air Force Flight Test Center, the Naval Weapons Center's Pacific Missile Test Range and contractor partners.
ATK-GASL built the airframe and the integrated scramjet engine, while Boeing's Phantom Works developed the flight control software.
Orbital Sciences Corp. provided the modified first-stage Pegasus rocket that boosted the X-43A to test conditions after launch from NASA's now-retired NB-52B mother ship.
The X-43A / Hyper-X program had previously been honored with an Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels Award and NASA's internal Turning Goals into Reality Administrator's Award.
(color) The scramjet powered X-43A hangs beneath the wing of a B-52 jet before a November 2004 flight test.