Skip Top nav bar link group topnav end piece go to business section go to education section go to history section go to gallery section go to news section go to organizations section go to research section go to search engine go to site index topnav end piece
NASA Meatball NASA Dryden PHYSX Movies banner
Pegasus aircraft taking off from ground - side view

PHYSX undergoing thermal tests

Movie Number   EM-0083-01
Movie Date   1996
Formats   160x120 15-fps QuickTime Movie (2,732 KBytes)
320x240 30-fps QuickTime Movie (3,292 KBytes)
320x240 30-fps MPEG-1 Movie (4,061 KBytes)
PHYSX Still photos of this test are available in several resolutions at

Two Pegasus® Hypersonic Experiment (PHYSX) gloves were manufactured for the program - one that flew aboard the Pegasus booster rocket and one earmarked for thermal ground tests. Both gloves were made of nickel-plated steel.

The experiment, which flew successfully on October 22, 1998, consisted of a smooth, information-gathering "glove" installed on the first-stage wing of the Pegasus Space Launch Vehicle, which reaches speeds of Mach 8 and altitudes of 200,000 feet. Instrumentation on the glove gathered more than 90 seconds of hypersonic temperature, pressure, and airflow data after the Pegasus booster was launched from an Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia, L-1011 aircraft. The glove was bonded to the right wing and wrapped from the underside of wing, over the leading edge and onto the upperside, although it did not cover the wing completely.

The experiment gathered information about how the air flows over the Pegasus wing. Scientists are particularly interested in the transition of air from smooth (laminar) to turbulent flow. The goal of the experiment was to discover when the airflow over the wing becomes turbulent and why.

The ground-test glove was mounted on a plywood and fiberglass structure for a series of ground tests that concluded May 30, 1996. The glove was painted a flat black to maximize heat absorption. During the tests, engineers precooled the glove and heated it in the NASA Dryden Flight Loads Laboratory, simulating the heat the glove would experience during its first-stage flight profile. The tests revealed that the glove was hardy enough to survive the intense heat it would experience while traveling at eight times the speed of sound.

The Number 2 PHYSX wing glove is shown in this 29-second clip being taken to extreme high temperature in the Flight Loads Laboratory thermal test structure at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California.

Keywords   PHYSX; Pegasus Hypersonic Experiment; Pegasus booster; Mach 8; glove; laminar flow; Flight Loads Laboratory; Dryden Flight Research Center; Edwards; Calif.
Skip bottom nav bar link group Business | Education | History | Gallery | News Room | Organizations | Research | Search | Site Index

   Last Modified: December 9, 2001
   Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
   Curator: PAO Webmasters

   NASA Website Privacy Statement