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Nasa Dryden: Where advanced aircraft fly high

  • Flying fleet
    Nasa's Dryden Flight Research Center is the home of the space agency’s cutting edge research craft. Over the years, its fleet has included three SR-71 Blackbirds. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Feeling supersonic
    The centre has contributed to several milestones in aircraft development, including the first ever supersonic flight. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Record breaker
    Twenty years later, Dryden was involved with the flight of the X-15 craft, which still holds the record for the fastest ever manned flight at more than Mach four. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Flying giant
    Many of these tests were conducted by dropping experimental craft from Dryden’s adapted B52 Stratofortress, which was retired in December 2004. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Wired up
    Other milestones at the base include work on digital “fly-by-wire” aircraft, which use computers to stabilise the craft and make them more manoeuvrable. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Moon shot
    Dryden has also contributed to space programmes, including developing a machine for Apollo astronauts to simulate the Moon landing. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Sun rise
    The centre has also done a lot of work on innovative propulsion and energy systems, such as the Centurion – a remotely piloted, solar-powered aircraft. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Along for the ride
    The base is also home to a converted Boeing 747, which was used to ferry the Space Shuttle between California and Florida, before the space craft’s retirement. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • High-flying
    Dryden is also home to a large fleet of scientific aircraft, including two ER-2s, which are similar in design to the U2 spy planes flown during the Cold War. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Water way to fly
    A lot of research is also now done on innovative unmanned systems, such as Boeing’s hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye prototype. (Copyright: Nasa)
The US space agency's Dryden research facility in California operates some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.

Over the years it has also contributed to many milestones in the history of flight.

Explore the pictures above or check out the first of our videos and articles from a recent behind the scenes tour of this extraordinary facility.

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