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Apex  Photo Gallery Contact Sheet

Apex Photo Gallery Contact Sheet

Photo Date: July 6, 2006
Formats: Low Resolution Image Contact Sheet (31497 KBytes)
Medium Resolution Image Contact Sheet (31503 KBytes)
High Resolution Image Contact Sheet (31513 KBytes)

The Apex High-Altitude Flight Experiment is expected to explore the aerodynamics of controlled flight at very high altitudes near 100,000 feet. The Apex will be hoisted aloft tail-first from Dryden by a large high-altitude balloon and released at about 110,000-feet altitude. As it gradually descends, its instrumentation will collect aerodynamic data.

The remotely-piloted, semi-autonomous Apex will combine a modified ASC sailplane fuselage design with a new wing designed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The wing will have a special airfoil designed for high subsonic speeds at extreme altitudes.

A device extending behind the right wing is a "wake rake," which will measure aerodynamic drag behind a test section of the wing, while a rocket pack mounted beneath the fuselage will assist the Apex in transitioning to horizontal flight. Research flights were expected to begin in mid-1998, but a series of technical problems delayed them. In the spring of 1999, Apex entered mothball status. This continued for a year, and in the spring of 2000 NASA selected Apex as part of phase 1 of the Revolutionary Concepts effort.

Keywords: Apex; sailplane; RPV; Remotely Piloted Vehicle; high-altitude; Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Last Modified: July 6, 2006
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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