NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center


Armstrong Flight Research Center is NASA's primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations. Located in California's western Mojave Desert on Edwards Air Force Base, Armstrong has been critcial in carrying out NASA's space exploration missions, space operations, scientific discovery, and aeronautical research and development (R&D)

What type of work is done at Armstrong?

For over 60 years, projects at Armstrong have led to major advancements in the design and capabilities of many state-of-the-art civilian and military aircraft. The newest, the fastest, the highest - all have made the debut in the skies over Armstrong. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) project is based at Armstrong though the aircraft and the aircraft's science missions are distrubted among several centers. SOFIA is a flying telescope aboard a Boeing 747 aircraft - in partnership with the Ames Research Center and the German Aerospace Center. In support of aeronautical R&D, Armstrong is involved in many aspects of Fundamental Aeronautical and Aviation Safety programs, including the X-48 Blended Wing body and Ikhana (Predator B) in support of subsonics; the F-15B Quiet Spike in support of supersonics and Adaptive Flight Controls in support of the Aviation Safety Program. Take a peek at this brochure to see what kind of research happens at Armstrong (8 MB.pdf).

Be sure to check out their YouTube channel for more videos.

Naming NASA Armstrong.

Video about the work being done at NASA Armstrong.

SummerResearch Opportunities:

NASA Armstrong will offer several research opportunities associated with the SOFIA project (learn more on the SOFIA page) in addition to atmospheric and flight operations projects. STAR Fellows may find summer housing with lab host families affiliated with Edwards Air Force Base or rent accommodations in the small town of Lancaster, CA. The remote location is best suited for Fellows with their own reliable transportation. NASA guidelines stipulate that Fellows must have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA to be considered for their sites. If you are interested in a STAR Fellowship at Armstrong, keep an eye on this page. We will update it with additional project information as it becomes available.

Armstrong Projects Include:

  • Real-Time Aeroservoelastic Modeling for Adaptive Control  - Objectives will be tailored based on the candidate's academic level, interests, and experience. Working together with a small team of researchers at Armstrong and Langley, design a real-time aeroservoelastic modeling system and construct a flight experiment for a flexible aircraft with unstable structural modes. Depending on the interests of the candidate, design and implement an indirect adaptive flight controller. Construct models from flight test and simulation data using parameter estimation methods. Models will include elastic deformation in addition to typical aircraft state variables. Implement similar methods in Simulink for piloted simulation, hardware-in-the-loop testing, and generation of flight code. Deploy software to onboard computer and demonstrate efficient execution and satisfactory processor margin. Construct flight experiments at individual flight conditions and quantify uncertainty in expected results. Schedule permitting, participate in flight experiments. Recommend sensor & instrumentation requirements for future work. Depending on the interests of the candidate and time, opportunity will exist for related work in indirect adaptive control. 
  • Research & Inventions for Wireless Architecture for UAV & Space Vehicles   - Vision: A global transportation system which allows routine access for all classes of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 1) Support the Integrated Systems Research Program to address operational and safety issues related to the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace by supporting the generation of the concept of operations (CONOPS), and human factors such as ground control station pilot-vehicle interfaces, flight research, and simulations that support UAS flight operations. Specific student assignment: a) Integrate and test mature concepts from the technical elements to demonstrate and test viability b) Create a 3-D Synthetic Vision display to enhance pilot situational awareness. The ideal solution is to design the system in a way that keeps the pilot aware of what the aircraft is going to do during flight. With respect to UAS operations, the ADS-B synthetic vision is composed of three functions: an enhanced intuitive view of the terrain environment, conflict detection and display, and precision navigation guidance. The ADS-B display prototype includes Windows HP Tablet and 3D HD Alienware Laptop for displays, Graphical User Interfaces, and audio (e.g. synthetic voice, cueing sounds, or alarms etc. c) Integrate a mini-ADS-B on a QUAD-ROTOR for sense and avoid and collision avoidance capability tests.  
  • sUAV Lab (Prandtl) - Interns will be expected to understand system and experiment design, experiment set-up, assist in operation of the aircraft, gathering the flight research data, collection of the data,analysis of the data, and reporting of the flight research data. Students are also expected to be able to communicate orally and to write reports. Students will also complete an abstract of their work, a poster to be presented, and complete an exit briefing.
  • Predictive Analysis - Data collection includes data mining the number of test flights and the length of the flight test schedule from Armstrong's Technical Library or other sources. Performs predictive analysis in the development of assigned tasks, in a methodology approach to research independent variables to improve an X-Plane cost estimation and/or cost model. Utilize statistical techniques to research new methodologies in the field of data sampling, estimation, editing, data collection, processing, and data dissemination. Should have knowledge or theory in developing simple regression using Microsoft Excel. Should have basic understanding in programing "R" statistical analysis software. Performs professional systems engineering work in statistics and creating log plots.
  • Aerospace Structural Health Monitoring Research with Fiber Optic Sensors - The potential integration of a system for structural health monitoring of aerospace structures would allow for reduction of weight while maintaining a high level of confidence in future Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) designs. In addition, a real-time monitoring system can reduce the risk of in-flight breakups by providing crucial flight data including wing deformations, structural stresses, and wing loading. Utilizing the NASA Armstrong Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) to obtain thousands of strain measurements in real-time, the intern will aid in the development of methods to estimate structural deformation of aerospace structures, focusing primarily on twist estimations. The student will focus on developing finite-element-like real-time heads-up displays of structural parameters.
  • The Science of Industrial Hygiene/Health Physics: Ergonomics, Noise and Illumination hazard evaluation studies at AFRC  - Occupational (or "industrial" in the U.S.) hygiene (IH) is the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control and prevention of hazards from work that may result in injury, illness, or affect the well being of workers.Although there are many aspects to occupational hygiene work the most known and sought after is in determining or estimating potential or actual exposures to hazards. This internship will provide the opportunity for students to learn and perform exposure assessment studies in two-three Health Physics programs within our Industrial Hygiene Office: Office Ergonomics, Illumination and Noise. Students will be provided the opportunity to work on real-world projects at AFRC for assessing the extent of these physical hazards to employees. 
  • Jet Engine Modeling/Thermodynamics Modeling/Aircraft Turbogeneration modeling NSF-CREST only  - Student will be involved in thermodynamics modeling and electronic power systems modeling. The current focus will be in modeling combined closely coupled turbo-electric generation systems and battery systems for hybrid electric aircraft. Student will perform a variety of tasks ranging from 'C'-code or Matlab composition. The student will also have an opportunity to work hands-on electronics or mechanical systems hardware depending on the specific requirements of the project.  
  • Develop an equivalent beam finite element model from the detailed 3D finite element model  - A reduced order model based an equivalent beam finite element model is needed for the application to a conceptual design of an aircraft. Sectional beam properties such as EI, GJ, and mass distribution along the beam as well as grid and element generation will be automatically computed from detailed 3D finite element model. A student needs to develop a computer code for this procedure together with a numerical testing of the code using a simple aircraft model. 

Previous Armstrong work included

STAR Fellows at Armstrong FRC interact with a large number of other summer interns. Here is a glimpse of the 2014 summer intern projects (2.7 MB PDF).


Where is NASA Armstrong?