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ABOUT AERO
Aeronautics History
+ September Marks 50th Anniversary of Bell X-2 High-Speed Flights
September 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of two aerospace milestones that involved both triumph and tragedy for the flight test community at Edwards Air Force Base.

The first "A" in NASA stands for "Aeronautics."

Today's NASA owes its existence to a legacy in aeronautics that began just 12 years after the Wright Brothers' historic flight in 1903.

In 1915, during World War I, Congress established the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) with a mandate to supervise the scientific study of flight. Most of NACA's work at that time was applied to military aviation.

Several of the NASA research facilities we know today were established under NACA-Langley Aeronautical Laboratory in 1917 (now the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia), Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in 1939 (now the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California), and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in 1940 (now the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio).

Under NACA's watch, research was conducted using new technologies that contributed to the development of every American aircraft of the time, including:
  • Wind tunnels to "fly" full-sized aircraft;
  • Radial air-cooled aircraft engines;
  • Engine cowl rings to reduce drag and promote cooling;
  • Wing de-icing systems;
  • The sweptback wing and the tricycle landing gear; and
  • Principles and tools to help aircraft fly many times faster than the speed of sound.
In 1958, with World War II over and the "Space Race" just begun, the NACA's personnel, research procedures, facilities, and expertise became the foundation for the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Since then, the aeronautics programs within NASA have continued to honor their NACA roots by conducting research and developing technology to improve commercial and military aircraft, and to support the creation of a next generation air transportation system.



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