NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) is one of four NASA centers that supports NASA’s Aeronautics Test Program (ATP). The ATP ensures the long-term availability and health of NASA’s major wind tunnels, ground test facilities, flight operations, and test infrastructure that support NASA, Department of Defense, and U.S. industry research and development (R&D), and test and evaluation (T&E) requirements.
DFRC’s contributions to ATP are the Flight Loads Laboratory (FLL), Western Aeronautical Test Range (WATR), Research Aircraft Integration Facility (RAIF), and a fleet of support aircraft. The RAIF is a one-of-a-kind facility capable of simultaneously supporting a variety of advanced, highly integrated aerospace vehicles through all phases of a research program.
A key component of ensuring ATP’s long-term viability is for DFRC to continually improve on the efficiency and effectiveness of a facility's operations or an aircraft’s capabilities, and integrate new technologies to address the nation’s future aerospace challenges. This includes developing test techniques that improve the control of both ground-based and in-flight test conditions, expanding measurement and analysis methodologies, and improving test data acquisition and management with sensors and systems that have fast response, low volume, minimal intrusion, and high accuracy and reliability.
DFRC is interested in innovative methods and technologies to extend the health, maintainability, and test capabilities of its flight research support facilities. Some specific areas of interest are:
• Multi-disciplinary nonlinear dynamic systems prediction, modeling, identification, simulation, and control of aerospace vehicles.
• Test techniques for conducting inflight boundary layer flow visualization, shockwave propagation, Schlieren photography, near and farfield sonic boom determination, and atmospheric modeling.
• Measurement technologies for steady and unsteady aerodynamic, aero-thermal dynamics, structural dynamics, stability and control, and propulsion system performance.
• Verification & Validation (V&V) of complex, highly integrated flight systems including hardware-in-the-loop testing.
• Manufacturability, affordability, and performance of small , upper-stage booster technologies for small and nano satellites.
• Innovative techniques that enable safer operations of aircraft (e.g., nondestructive examination of composites through ultrasonic techniques).
Also of interest are innovative methods and analysis techniques to improve the correlation of data from ground test to flight test.
“Flight Test Techniques and Measurement Technology (A4.02)” is a subtopic in NASA’s SBIR Solicitation. This is one avenue for finding and developing solutions to ensure that DFRC’s aeronautics test and measurement facilities and capabilities remain state-of-the art. Further information can be found at http://sbir.gsfc.nasa.gov/SBIR/SBIR.html.