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HL-10 on lakebed HL-10 on lakebed

Photo Number: ECN-2064
Photo Date: June 12, 1968

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Photo
Description:
The HL-10 Lifting Body is seen here parked on Rogers Dry Lake, the unique location where it landed after research flights. This 1968 photo shows the vehicle after the fins were modified to remove instabilities encountered on the first flight. It involved a change to the shape of the leading edge of the fins to eliminate flow separation. It required extensive wind-tunnel testing at Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. NASA Flight Research Center (FRC) engineer Bob Kempel than plotted thousands of data points by hand to come up with the modification, which involved a fiberglass glove backed with a metal structure on each fin's leading edge. This transformed the vehicle from a craft that was difficult to control into the best handling of the original group of lifting bodies at the FRC.

Project
Description:
The HL-10 was one of five heavyweight lifting-body designs flown at NASA's Flight Research Center (FRC--later Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, from July 1966 to November 1975 to study and validate the concept of safely maneuvering and landing a low lift-over-drag vehicle designed for reentry from space.

Northrop Corporation built the HL-10 and M2-F2, the first two of the fleet of "heavy" lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center. The contract for construction of the HL-10 and the M2-F2 was $1.8 million. "HL" stands for horizontal landing, and "10" refers to the tenth design studied by engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

After delivery to NASA in January 1966, the HL-10 made its first flight on Dec. 22, 1966, with research pilot Bruce Peterson in the cockpit. Although an XLR-11 rocket engine was installed in the vehicle, the first 11 drop flights from the B-52 launch aircraft were powerless glide flights to assess handling qualities, stability, and control. In the end, the HL-10 was judged to be the best handling of the three original heavy-weight lifting bodies (M2-F2/F3, HL-10, X-24A).

The HL-10 was flown 37 times during the lifting body research program and logged the highest altitude and fastest speed in the Lifting Body program. On Feb. 18, 1970, Air Force test pilot Peter Hoag piloted the HL-10 to Mach 1.86 (1,228 mph). Nine days later, NASA pilot Bill Dana flew the vehicle to 90,030 feet, which became the highest altitude reached in the program.

Some new and different lessons were learned through the successful flight testing of the HL-10. These lessons, when combined with information from it's sister ship, the M2-F2/F3, provided an excellent starting point for designers of future entry vehicles, including the Space Shuttle.


NASA Photo by: NASA photo

Keywords: HL-10; Lifting Body; low lift-over-drag; reentry; Northrop; Bruce Peterson; B-52; Peter Hoag; Bill Dana; Langley Research Center; NASA; Flight Research Center; M2-F2; M2-F3; Northrop; flow separation


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