List of NASA aircraft
This is a list of NASA aircraft. Throughout its history NASA has used several different types of aircraft on a permanent, semi-permanent, or short-term basis. These aircraft are usually surplus, but in a few cases are newly built, military aircraft.
- 1 NASA 515
- 2 F5D Skylancer
- 3 SR-71 Blackbird
- 4 Shuttle Training Aircraft
- 5 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
- 6 Multi-Role Cooperative Research Platform
- 7 Balls 8
- 8 NASA Pathfinder
- 9 NASA Parasev
- 10 Variable Stability Research Rotor Craft project
- 11 XB-70 Valkyrie
- 12 NASA AD-1
- 13 NASA M2-F1
- 14 Vertol VZ-2
- 15 Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration
- 16 X-48
- 17 Other
- 18 See also
- 19 References
- NASA 515 is the first Boeing 737 ever built. After being used to qualify the 737 design, NASA heavily modified the aircraft for continuing research. NASA 515 was maintained and flown by Langley Research Center as part of the Terminal Area Productivity (TAP) program until retirement.
- NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center acquired two F5D-1 Skylancers in 1961 which were used as a testbed for supersonic research and to train pilots for the X-20 Dyna-Soar program. The F5D-1 Skylancer had a wing planform similar to the proposed design for Dyna-Soar. After the Dyna-Soar program was canceled in December 1963, one F5D-1 stayed on at Dryden, eventually becoming a flight simulator for the M2-F2, and a chase plane for experimental flights until 1970. In May 1970 one of the aircraft was retired and donated to the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum.
- Two SR-71 Blackbirds were used as trainers by NASA between 1991 and 1999. The plane was permanently retired in 1998, and the Air Force quickly disposed of their SR-71s, leaving NASA with the last two airworthy Blackbirds until 1999. All other Blackbirds have been moved to museums except for the two SR-71s and a few D-21 drones retained by the NASA Dryden Research Center.
Shuttle Training Aircraft
- 4 Grumman Gulfstream II's, designated C-11A, are used as Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA). they are stationed at NASA's El Paso Forward Operating Location in El Paso, Texas and rotated through Ellington Field for maintenance.
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
- Two 747s, one registered N905NA (which is a 747-100 model that was acquired from American Airlines in 1974) and a second registered N911NA (a 747-100SR model purchased from Japan Airlines in 1988) were used by NASA as Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Multi-Role Cooperative Research Platform
- A Gulfstream G-III, designated C–20A, was acquired from the United States Air Force in 2003 and modified by Dryden Flight Research Center for use in NASA's Multi-Role Cooperative Research Platform program as a testbed for a variety of in flight experimentation. The aircraft was equipped with a self-contained on-board Data Collection and Processing System (DCAPS), which allows for automated configuration setups thereby reducing engineering costs for each flight. The aircraft has been used by the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) program, the Access 5 program alongside Scaled Composites Proteus aircraft, and as a test bed to develop collision avoidance systems and procedures.
- NASA one is the business jet of the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA one is a Gulfstream G-III with a seating capacity of 12 people. The jet is stored in an FAA hangar along with 3 other government planes. As of 2008[update], NASA now shares a plane with FAA.
- The Balls 8 is a NASA NB-52B which was used as a mothership for the X-15 program, 127 lifting body flight tests such as the HL-10 test flight, to support development in the Space Shuttle program, and several other miscellaneous test programs. After almost 50 years flying service the Balls 8 was retired from active service with NASA on December 17, 2004, following its participation in the Hyper-X program.
- AeroVironment Pathfinder aircraft — NASA's Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus, Centurion and Helios Prototype were an evolutionary series of solar– and fuel cell system–powered unmanned aircraft.
- The NASA Paresev (Paraglider Research Vehicle) program, which conducted tests between 1961 and 1965, was designed to study the ability of the Rogallo wing, also called Parawing, to descend a payload such as the Gemini space capsule safely from high altitude to ground. Specifically, the Paresev was a test vehicle used to learn how to control this paraglider for a safe landing at a normal airfield.
Variable Stability Research Rotor Craft project
- Boeing CH–47B. Used for the Variable Stability Research Rotor Craft project. It was equipped to fly by wire and had three on board computers. After research was completed, it was returned to the US Army and upgraded to the CH–47D standard.
- NASA participated heavily in the design and testing of the XB-70 Valkyrie in the mid to late 1960s. NASA Ames Research Center assisted North American Aviation in the design of the supersonic bomber with wind tunnel studies. NASA and the United States Air Force had a joint agreement to use the second XB–70A prototype for high–speed research flights in support of the proposed SST program. These plans went awry on June 8, 1966, when the second XB–70 crashed following a midair collision with NASA's F–104N chase plane. After 33 research flights following the mid–air collision, the remaining XB–70A was flown to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on February 4, 1969 for museum display. The aircraft is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
- The NASA AD-1 was both an aircraft and an associated flight test program conducted between 1979 and 1982 at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards California, which successfully demonstrated an aircraft wing that could be pivoted obliquely from zero to 60 degrees during flight.
- The NASA M2-F1 was a lightweight, unpowered prototype aircraft, developed to flight test the wingless lifting body concept. It looked like a "flying bathtub," and was designated the M2–F1, the "M" referring to "manned" and "F" referring to "flight" version. In 1962, NASA Dryden management approved a program to build a lightweight, unpowered lifting body prototype. It featured a plywood shell placed over a tubular steel frame crafted at Dryden. Construction was completed in 1963.
- The Boeing Vertol VZ-2 (also known as the Model 76) was a research aircraft built in the United States in 1957 to investigate the tiltwing approach to vertical take-off and landing. The aircraft has been preserved by the National Air and Space Museum in storage at the Paul E. Garber Facility.
Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration
- The Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration was a two-year program that used an F-5E with a modified fuselage in order to demonstrate that the aircraft's shockwave, and accompanying sonic boom, can be shaped and thereby reduced. The program was a joint effort between NASA's Langley Research Center, Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, and Northrop Grumman.
The Boeing X-48 series consists of remotely piloted aircraft with a hybrid-wing-body subscale. The X-48 C is modified from the original X-48 B, with both aircraft built by Cranfield Aerospace Limited of the United Kingdom, designed by Boeing Corporation, and flown in partnership with NASA. The X-48 series was utilized to "evaluate the low-speed stability and control of a low-noise version of a notional hybrid-wing-body design." NASA is hoping that this particular aircraft will aid in the design "green airlines," with studies currently underway on the research compiled from these flights by NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project. 
- Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy
- Aero Spacelines Super Guppy
- Beechcraft T-34 Mentor. Used mainly as a chase plane but also used for research.
- Bell UH-1H Iroquois
- Bell XV-15. Tiltrotor VTOL research craft
- Bellanca Skyrocket II
- Boeing 757. Ex–Eastern Airlines 757 used as an advanced technology test platform.
- Boeing KC–135 Stratotanker. Two ex–USAF KC–135As (designated N930NA and N931NA) were used by NASA from 1973 to 2004 for the Reduced Gravity Research Program, where potential astronauts are exposed to simulated near–weightlessness. These aircraft are also known as Vomit Comets.
- Boeing X-48
- Cessna Skymaster
- Cessna T-37 Tweet
- Convair 880 Used for Anti–Misting Kerosene Fuel.
- Convair 990. Nicknamed Galileo, it was used as an airborne laboratory for research in aeronautics, astronautics, astronomy, and earth observations. The Galileo I aircraft was lost in a mid-air collision in 1973. The Galileo II continued service into the 1980s.
- Convair F–106 Delta Dart. From 1986 a handful of F–106As, redesignated QF–106A, were retained by NASA for test purposes, the last being retired in 1998.
- Cirrus SR22. Used for research and development in Small Aircraft Transportation System.
- de Havilland Canada Bisontennial. Used for STOL research and the Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft program.
- de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. Used for aircraft icing research at the Glenn Research Center.
- Douglas DC-3
- Douglas C-118 Liftmaster
- Douglas C-133 Cargomaster
- Douglas DC-8. Operated by the University of North Dakota used for atmospheric research.
- Douglas X-3 Stiletto
- Dyke Delta
- Eiri-Avion PIK-20
- Fokker F-104 Starfighter. Three F-104Gs delivered to NASA in 1963 for use as high speed chase aircraft and redesignated F-104N. One of these aircraft, piloted by Joe Walker, collided with the XB-70 Valkyrie experimental bomber on June 8, 1966, killing Walker. NASA retired its last F-104 in 1995.
- General Atomics ALTUS
- General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
- General Dynamics F–16 Fighting Falcon. From 1988 until 1999, 2 prototypes of the F–16XL, designed as a competitor to the F-15E Strike Eagle in the USAF's Enhanced Tactical Fighter program, were acquired by NASA for aeronautical research.
- General Dynamics F-16 VISTA
- General Dynamics F-16XL
- Gossamer Albatross
- Grumman Gulfstream I
- Grumman X-29
- Hawker Siddeley P.1127
- Kuiper Airborne Observatory
- Kreider-Reisner XC-31
- Learjet 23
- Learjet 24
- Learjet 25
- Learjet 28
- Ling–Temco–Vought LTV XC–142. Experimental VTOL Tiltwing transport aircraft.
- Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. Two specially designed C-5Cs were procured by NASA for use as a heavy transport aircraft and flown by USAF crews.
- Lockheed C-121 Starliner
- Lockheed C-141 Starlifter. In the early 1960s a single C-141A was procured by NASA for use as a heavy transport aircraft. The C-141A Kuiper Airborne Observatory, was operated from 1974 to 1995.
- Lockheed JetStar
- Lockheed NC-130B Hercules. Used for the Earth Survey program.
- Lockheed NF-104A
- Lockheed P–3 Orion. NASA currently uses the P–3 as an earth science suborbital research platform and is located at Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
- Lockheed S–3 Viking. Upgraded to a state of the art research platform.
- Lockheed U-2 "Dragon Lady". Two U-2s have been modified to the ER-2 (Earth Resources-2) standard and are currently in use at Dryden Flight Research Center for use in various high altitude research projects.
- Lockheed YF-12
- Lockheed YO–3 Quiet Star. Used in rotorcraft research
- Lockheed Martin X-56
- Martin B–57 Canberra. Two Martin WB–57Fs are currently operating from Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center as high altitude research platforms for atmospheric research and Space Shuttle monitoring.
- McDonnell 188
- McDonnell Douglas HARV
- McDonnell Douglas C-9 Skytrain II. One ex-USN C-9B was acquired in 2005 to replace the famous KC-135s used in NASA's Reduced Gravity Research program.
- McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. It was used as a chase plane for the X-15 program and for the lifting body flights. It was also used to collect biomedical data and used to see if sonic booms could be used as a weapon.
- McDonnell Douglas F–15 Eagle. One modified ex–USAF F–15, the F-15S/MTD, has been in use as a technology demonstrator and technology research aircraft since 1993, being used in the ACTIVE (1993–1999) and IFCS (2002–) programs.
- McCulloch J-2
- MIT Daedalus
- NASA 8. Used to shuttle personnel between Wallops Flight Facility and Baltimore.
- NASA Hyper III
- NASA Mini-Sniffer
- NASA X-43
- North American AJ Savage three were loaned as weightlessness simulators from January 1960 to September 1964.
- North American F-82 Twin Mustang
- North American F-86 Sabre
- North American F-100 Super Sabre
- North America OV-10 Bronco
- North American X-15. Rocket plane which flew from 1959 to 1968. Conceived by NACA, three were built and explored the regime of hypersonic flight. It is often regarded as a direct predecessor to the Space Shuttle.
- North American YF-93
- Northrop HL-10
- Northrop M2-F2
- Northrop M2-F3
- Northrop T-38 Talon. A number of T-38As have been used by NASA as jet trainers for its astronauts since the 1960s. NASA's T-38 fleet is housed primarily at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas.
- Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk
- OMAC Laser 300
- Pitcairn PAA-1
- Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology (HIMAT)
- Rockwell-MBB X-31
- Rutan VariEze
- Ryan XV–5 Vertifan. Experimental jet-powered VTOL aircraft
- Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe.
- Sikorsky H-19
- Sikorsky S-72. An experimental hybrid helicopter/fixed–wing aircraft.
- Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
- Vought F–8 Crusader. Several F–8Cs were used by NASA in the early 1970s to test such features as Digital Fly–By–Wire Control System and supercritical wings, which have become standard on modern high performance military aircraft.
- Vought XF8U–3 Crusader III. Used for atmospheric testing.
- "NASA Dryden F5D-1 Photo Collection". Dryden Flight Research Center Photo Collection. NASA. September 27, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "NASA/DFRC SR-71 Blackbird". Dryden Flight Research Center. NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Jenkins, Dennis R. (2001). Lockheed Secret Projects: Inside the Skunk Works. St. Paul, Minnesota: Zenith Imprint. ISBN 978-0-7603-0914-8.
- "NASA - Test Drive: Shuttle Training Aircraft Preps Astronauts for Landing". NASA. NASA. March 3, 2005. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Curry, Marty, ed. (March 1, 2008). "Gulfstream III Multi-Role Cooperative Research Platform". Dryden Flight Research Center. NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Cowing, Keith (22 March 2004). "A Day in the Life of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe". SpaceRef.com (SpaceRef Interactive).
- Curry, Marty, ed. (May 7, 2008). "NASA — NASA Dryden Fact Sheet — B-52B "Mothership" Launch Aircraft". Dryden Flight Research Center. NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Creech, Gray (December 15, 2004). "NASA — End of an Era: NASA's Famous B-52B Retires". Dryden Flight Research Center. NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "The Rogallo Parasev: A revolution in flying wings". Aviation News Magazine (HPC Publishing) (March 2007). March 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Wade, Mark (July 31, 2008). "FIRST Re-entry glider:". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Borchers, Paul F.; Franklin, James A.; Fletcher, Jay W. (1998). "Rotorcraft Research". SP–3300 Flight Research at Ames, 1940–1997. Moffett Field, California: NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Curry, Marty (December 9, 2009). "NASA — XB–70A Valkyrie". Dryden Flight Research Center. NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Curry, Marty (May 7, 2008). "NASA — NASA Dryden Fact Sheet — AD–1". Dryden Flight Research Center. NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Reed, R. Dale; Lister, Darlene (2002). Wingless Flight: The Lifting Body Story (PDF). University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-9026-6. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Borchers, Paul F.; Franklin, James A.; Fletcher, Jay W. (1998). "Boundary Layer Control, STOL, V/STOL Aircraft Research". SP-3300 Flight Research at Ames, 1940-1997. Moffett Field, California: NASA. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Malik, Tariq (April 21, 2004). "Shushing Sonic Booms: Changing the Shape of Supersonic Planes". Space.com (Imaginova). Retrieved January 10, 2010.
- NASA - X-48 Project Completes Flight Research for Cleaner, Quieter Aircraft, NASA, April 12, 2013, retrieved May 3, 2013
- "NASA GRC Icing Branch Facilities". NASA. NASA. October 28, 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2010.