NASA Dryden is Unique


The Los Angeles Times reported May 9 that a 20 percent reduction in budget was under consideration for NASA Dryden, which would require a reduction in staff of about 600 engineers. This will be on top of recent reductions for NASA Dryden.

NASA Dryden is a unique test facility for testing new aircraft designs. It probably has no equal in the world, certainly not in the United States. NASA Dryden has tested virtually every aircraft produced in the United States for generations.

It recently ran tests of a modified F-5 fighter aircraft, for Northrop Grumman and many other participants, at about Mach 1.4 to test modification of the shock waves, which produce the sonic boom on the ground. The pressure pattern on the ground was measured for the modified aircraft and an unmodified aircraft to test a unique design theory.

There is no other facility in the United States that can run such tests. These tests were successful in reducing the peak shock wave pressures, thus the sonic boom, produced by the aircraft, but not the drag that causes the very heavy fuel requirement for supersonic aircraft. This was a major milestone in the progress toward economical, shock-free supersonic flight.

My small company in South Pasadena has developed a new technology that has great promise to reduce the shock wave pressures more dramatically and also reduce the high drag of the shock waves, resulting in a Mach 2.4 supersonic aircraft having the economy of subsonic aircraft and a negligible sonic boom, which allows flight over land. A facility like NASA Dryden will be required to complete testing and final development of this, or any other economical, shock-free flight technology. Your assistance is requested in maintaining the basic skills and staff at NASA Dryden to preserve this unique facility.

Scott Rethorst
Vehicle Research Corporation
South Pasadena, Calif.