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NASA Meatball Apex Photo Collection banner

Apex wing section undergoing loading test

Photo Number: EC98-44487-9
Photo Date: Sept 1998
Formats: 491x480 JPEG Image (164 KBytes)
1048x1024 JPEG Image (613 KBytes)
2457x2400 JPEG Image (3344 KBytes)
Apex wing section undergoing loading test preparation

The Apex High-Altitude Flight Experiment at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center was intended to probe the aerodynamics of controlled subsonic flight at very high altitudes near 100,000 feet. The unpowered craft incorporated a unique wing airfoil designed to maintain stable horizontal flight in the rarified air of those altitudes. The Apex was to have been towed tail-first to an altitude of about 105,000 feet by a large high-altitude balloon, released nose-down and transitioned to horizontal flight above 95,000 feet.

The data collected by the Apex experiment was intended to help validate airfoil design codes for future extremely high-altitude aircraft as well as the Mars Airplane proposed by NASA to aid exploration of the red planet. However, the project was cancelled in 1999 before the aircraft was completed. Data for flight at extremely high altitudes subsequently was obtained during the Helios solar-electric aircraft's record altitude flight in 2003.

Apex Home Page

NASA Photo by: Jim Ross
Keywords: Apex, sailplane, RPV, Remotely Piloted Vehicle, high-altitude, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT

Last Modified: February 8, 2006
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
Curator: PAO Webmasters

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