Book Lovers Day - Free Aeronautics e-Books from NASA

Quieting the Boom

The Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstrator and the Quest for Quiet Supersonic Flight.

Download it HERE

Elegance in Flight

A comprehensive History of the F-16XL Experimental Prototype and its Role in our Flight Research. 

Download it HERE

Probing the Sky

Selected National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Research Airplanes and Their Contributions to Flight.

Download it HERE

Cave of the Winds

The huge Langley Full-Scale Tunnel building dominated the skyline of Langley Air Force Base for 81 years (1930–2011). Explore how the results of critical tests conducted within its massive test section contributed to many of the Nation’s most important aeronautics and space programs.

Download it HERE

A New Twist in Flight Research

A New Twist in Flight Research describes the origins and design development of aeroelastic wing technology, its application to research aircraft, the flight-test program, and follow-on research and future applications.

Download it HERE

Sweeping Forward

Developing & Flight Testing the Grumman X-29A Forward Swept Wing Research Aircraft.

Download it HERE

Thinking Obliquely

Robert T. Jones, the Oblique Wing, our AD-1 Demonstrator, and its Legacy.

Download it HERE

The Apollo of Aeronautics

The fuel crisis of the 1970s threatened not only the airline industry but also the future of American prosperity itself. It also served as the genesis of technological ingenuity and innovation from a group of scientists and engineers at NASA, who initiated planning exercises to explore new fuel-saving technologies.

Download it HERE

X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight

X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight describes the genesis of the program, the design and construction of the aircraft, years of research flights and the experiments that flew aboard them.

Download it HERE


Delve into the story of the Ikhana, a remotely piloted vehicle used by NASA researchers to conduct Earth science research, which became an unexpected flying and imaging helper to emergency workers battling California wildfires.

Download it HERE

NASA’s Contributions to Aeronautics, Volume 1

This first volume in a two-volume set includes case studies and essays on NACA-NASA research for contributions such as high-speed wing design, the area rule, rotary-wing aerodynamics research, sonic boom mitigation, hypersonic design, computational fluid dynamics, electronic flight control and environmentally friendly aircraft technology.

Download it HERE

NASA’s Contributions to Aeronautics, Volume 2

Continue your journey into the world  of NASA’s Contributions to Aeronautics with case studies and essays on NACA-NASA research for contributions including wind shear and lightning research, flight operations, human factors, wind tunnels, composite structures, general aviation aircraft safety, supersonic cruise aircraft research and atmospheric icing.

Download it HERE

Interested in other free e-books on topics from space, science, research and more? Discover the other e-books HERE.

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Meet the real women behind Hidden Figures.

In the early days of the Space Race, Dorothy Vaughan headed the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA) West Area Computing unit. It was an important but segregated unit of mostly female mathematicians doing aerospace calculations by hand. When NACA became NASA in 1958, the Analysis and Computation Division desegregated and Vaughan became a sought-after expert on FORTRAN  – a programming language used on IBM mainframes.

Vaughan is one of the women whose work inspired the film Hidden Figures — a true story of three African American mathematicians who helped NASA launch the first Americans into space.

Feeling inspired? See how coding might figure into your life. Uncover more about Dorothy Vaughan →

Okay so here’s one of those rare gems of moments where retail is actually kind of okay. 

I’m gonna start by revealing the well-kept secret that I live in Ohio… in case all the buckeye references flew by you. And Ohio… is obsessed with space travel. I mean- it makes sense. We’ve got a couple astronauts in our history, there’s the National Aeronautics and Space Museum in Dayton, and on those quiet summer nights, where the sky is clear and the stars are twinkling in the distance, it is hard to not look up at the darkness and wonder if there is intelligent life out there. (Not here.)

Anyhow, all the fourth graders have a big space-related project around this time of year and this means that we, as craft retailers, have to be problem solvers. The number one problem is ‘oh gods, please tell me that you’re going to put a primer down on that styrofoam before you spray paint it.’

Because- you guessed it- everyone is making a damn solar system model. 

That is to say… their parents are making the solar system model. 

I was just finishing up explaining the use of a styrofoam primer and which spray paints are safe to use with styro to the mother of one ten-year-old when the mother of another ten-year-old rounds the corner looking desperate. 

“Is this a good paint for cardboard?”

It’s not. So I round her back to where her son and daughter are waiting and explain them what will work. She needs green, and there are three different kinds of greens. The mom holds them up and has her daughter choose. 

“Which one do you want for your face?”

I freeze because putting acrylic on your skin is a great way to get a rash. “Hold on, you’re not putting this on your skin, are you?”

“No, gosh no. We’re painting a box and putting the box on her head.”

Okay, I’m curious. “Can you explain what you’re making?”

The daughter chimes in. “We have to do a project for school and I’m gonna dress up like a alien!”

Instantly, I love this child. Not just because she considers dressing up as an alien to be an acceptable school project, but because she’s not leaving it to her mom to do all the work. 

So we talk for a minute about project stuff and she tells me that her brother is going to be the first man on Mars. Her brother is five. Her brother concurs- he is going to be the first man on Mars. Their mom tells me about the Neil Armstrong museum nearby. Like… this is a family of people excited about the future of space travel.

“Did you hear about those new planets,” I asked. 

The little girl starts jumping up and down. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Mom: “Can you remember what they said about the new planets?”

“They said…. they said that they can… uhhh… sustain life! There might be aliens!”

Mom: “Now, they said they can sustain life, but I think they also said that it isn’t very advanced life.”

The little girl looks off into space- contemplating this new information. She is formulating a very important thought. 

Very softly: “We get to be the aliens this time.”

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Add to your electronic bookshelf with these free e-books from NASA!

1. The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini

This work features 100 images highlighting Cassini’s 13-year tour at the ringed giant.

2. Earth as Art 

Explore our beautiful home world as seen from space.

3. Meatballs and more 

Emblems of Exploration showcases the rich history of space and aeronautic logos.

4. Ready for Our Close Up

Hubble Focus: Our Amazing Solar System showcases the wonders of our galactic neighborhood.

5. NASA’s First A 

This book dives into the role aeronautics plays in our mission of engineering and exploration.

6. See More 

Making the Invisible Visible outlines the rich history of infrared astronomy.

7. Ready for a Deeper Dive? 

The NASA Systems Engineering Handbook describes how we get the job done.

8. Spoiler Alert

The space race really heats up in the third volume of famed Russian spacecraft designer Boris Chertok memoirs. Chertok, who worked under the legendary Sergey Korolev, continues his fascinating narrative on the early history of the Soviet space program, from 1961 to 1967 in Rockets and People III.

9. Take a Walk on the Wild Side

The second volume of Walking to Olympus explores the 21st century evolution of spacewalks.

10. No Library Card Needed 

Find your own great read in NASA’s free e-book library.

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     Before the Space Shuttle carried us to Mach 25, before the X-15 tore through the High Desert sky, before the X-1 punched through the sound barrier, there was this airplane. A small, fabric covered Fairchild whose top speed was just over 100 mph was the NACA’s (NASA’s predecessor) first airplane. As I photographed this airplane, I wished I could travel back to 1928 and tell the builders that they were fabricating the matriarch of the fleet that would touch the lives of billions.

     Before 1928, the NACA was performing flight tests using borrowed military aircraft. Fairchild FC-2W2 serial number 531 became the first ship they would actually own. “NACA 26″ was responsible for everything from validating wind tunnel data to researching icing effects by flying with water sprayers forward of the leading edge of a vestigial airfoil segment attached to the wing strut.

     In 1936, the NACA had logged 593 hours and 20 minutes of flight time when they transferred her to an even younger government agency. The National Park Service would take ownership of the bird and she would become their first aircraft. After the transfer, she was given a new engine, propeller and the civilian designation, N-13934. In this new role, she flew over 700 hours along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, bringing groceries to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and supporting remote camps of workers fighting beach erosion.

     Through the decades, the aircraft moved from hand to hand, flying for the Office of Indian Affairs Navajo Agency in 1942, then being sold into private ownership for only $300. From 1945 to 1970, the aircraft changed hands six times, being used for crop dusting, cloud seeding, skydiving, and even being crashed and restored. In 1996, she was purchased by Greg Herrick’s Yellowstone Aviation of Jackson, Wyoming, where she was lovingly restored. While most of her NACA/NASA successors rest on museum duty, this bird still flies today, based out of the Golden Wings Flying Museum in Blaine, MN.

The Great Aviation Transformation Begins

On this National Aviation Day, we’re going “X.” 

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s original U.S. aviation pioneers — Orville Wright. But this year we also celebrate the pioneers of right now — the women and men of NASA who are changing the face of aviation by going “X.” We’re starting the design and build of a series of piloted experimental aircraft – X-planes – for the final proof that new advanced tech and revolutionary shapes will give us faster, quieter, cleaner ways to get from here to there.

So, what is an X-plane?

Since the early days of aviation, X-planes have been used to demonstrate new technologies in their native environment – flying through the air aboard an aircraft that’s shaped differently from the tube-and-wing of today. X-planes are the final step after ground tests. They provide valuable data that can lead to changes in regulation, design, operations, and options for travel. Two of the most famous historical X-planes are the Bell X-1 and the X-15.

Why can’t I fly supersonic now, say from New York to Seattle?

Because of the loud, jarring sonic boom. Commercial supersonic flight over land and, therefore over communities, is currently prohibited. Our supersonic X-plane will fly “quiet”; there’ll still be a sonic boom but it’ll sound more like a soft “thump.”  The Low Boom Flight Demonstration X-plane, scheduled for first flight in 2021 and to begin community overflight testing in 2022, will provide the technical and human response data to federal and international regulators so they can consider lifting the ban. If that happens, someday commercial supersonic passenger flights between U.S. coasts would be less than three hours.

This is a preliminary design of the Low Boom Flight Demonstration X-plane. Its shape is carefully tailored to prevent the formation of a loud sonic boom.

Will I ever be able to carry on a conversation when a plane flies overhead?

Yes. Our next X-plane will be one that flies at regular speed, but has advanced design technologies and a nontraditional shape that drop perceived noise level by more than half. It will also reduce fuel consumption by 60-80 percent, and cut emissions by more than 80 percent. Design of this piloted X-plane is expected to begin around 2020.

This possible X-plane design is a blended wing body, which reduces drag and increases lift, and also reduces noise because the engines are placed above the fuselage.

Will I ever fly on an airplane powered like my Prius?

Probably. All- or hybrid-electric aircraft that can carry 12 – 120 passengers are becoming more likely. For a larger aircraft and possible future X-plane, NASA is studying how to use electric power generated by the engines to drive a large fan in a tail-cone and get additional thrust for takeoff and reduce fuel use.

This possible future subsonic X-plane would use electricity to power a large fan in the tail-cone, providing extra thrust at takeoff.

We – along with our government, industry and academic partners – have begun the great aviation transformation. And you’ll witness every important moment of our X-plane stories, here and on every #NationalAviationDay.

Like the X-plane posters for National Aviation Day? Download them:

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Innovation at 100

Air travel, spaceflight, robotic solar-system missions: science fiction to those alive at the turn of the 20th century became science fact to those living in the 21st. 

America’s aerospace future has been literally made at our Langley Research Center by the best and brightest the country can offer. Here are some of the many highlights from a century of ingenuity and invention.

Making the Modern Airplane

In times of peace and war, Langley helped to create a better airplane, including unique wing shapes, sturdier structures, the first engine cowlings, and drag cleanup that enabled the Allies to win World War II.

In 1938 Langley mounted the navy’s Brewster XF2A-1 Buffalo in the Full-Scale Tunnel for drag reduction studies.

Wind Goes to Work

Langley broke new ground in aeronautical research with a suite of first-of-their-kind wind tunnels that led to numerous advances in commercial, military and vertical flight, such as helicopters and other rotorcraft. 

Airflow turning vanes in Langley’s 16-Foot Transonic Tunnel.

Aeronautics Breakthroughs

Aviation Hall of Famer Richard Whitcomb’s area rule made practical jet flight a reality and, thanks to his development of winglets and the supercritical wing, enabled jets to save fuel and fly more efficiently.

Richard Whitcomb examines a model aircraft incorporating his area rule.

Making Space

Langley researchers laid the foundation for the U.S. manned space program, played a critical role in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, and developed the lunar-orbit rendezvous concept that made the Moon landing possible.

Neil Armstrong trained for the historic Apollo 11 mission at the Lunar Landing Research Facility,

Safer Air Above and Below

Langley research into robust aircraft design and construction, runway safety grooving, wind shear, airspace management and lightning protection has aimed to minimize, even eliminate air-travel mishaps

NASA’s Boeing 737 as it approached a thunderstorm during microburst wind shear research in Colorado in 1992.

Tracking Earth from Aloft

Development by Langley of a variety of satellite-borne instrumentation has enabled real-time monitoring of planet-wide atmospheric chemistry, air quality, upper-atmosphere ozone concentrations, the effects of clouds and air-suspended particles on climate, and other conditions affecting Earth’s biosphere.

Crucial Shuttle Contributions

Among a number of vital contributions to the creation of the U.S. fleet of space shuttles, Langley developed preliminary shuttle designs and conducted 60,000 hours of wind tunnel tests to analyze aerodynamic forces affecting shuttle launch, flight and landing.

Space Shuttle model in the Langley wind tunnel.

Decidedly Digital

Helping aeronautics transition from analog to digital, Langley has worked on aircraft controls, glass cockpits, computer-aided synthetic vision and a variety of safety-enhancing onboard sensors to better monitor conditions while airborne and on the ground.

Aerospace research engineer Kyle Ellis uses computer-aided synthetic vision technology in a flight deck simulator.

Fast, Faster, Fastest

Langley continues to study ways to make higher-speed air travel a reality, from about twice the speed of sound – supersonic – to multiple times: hypersonic.

Langley continues to study ways to make higher-speed air travel a reality, from about twice the speed of sound – supersonic – to multiple times: hypersonic.

Safer Space Sojourns

Protecting astronauts from harm is the aim of Langley’s work on the Orion Launch Abort System, while its work on materials and structures for lightweight and affordable space transportation and habitation will keep future space travelers safe.

Unmasking the Red Planet

Beginning with its leadership role in Project Viking, Langley has helped to unmask Martian mysteries with a to-date involvement in seven Mars missions, with participation in more likely to come.

First image of Mars taken by Viking 1 Lander.

Touchdown Without Terror

Langley’s continued work on advanced entry, descent and landing systems aims to make touchdowns on future planetary missions routinely safe and secure.

Artist concept of NASA’s Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator - an entry, descent and landing technology.

Going Green

Helping to create environmentally benign aeronautical technologies has been a focus of Langley research, including concepts to reduce drag, weight, fuel consumption, emissions, and lessen noise.

Intrepid Inventors

With a history developing next-generation composite structures and components, Langley innovators continue to garner awards for a variety of aerospace inventions with a wide array of terrestrial applications.

Boron Nitride Nanotubes: High performance, multi-use nanotube material.

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Meet America’s #NewAstronauts

We’re so excited to introduce America’s new astronauts! After evaluating a record number of applications, we’re proud to present our 2017 astronaut class!

These 12 new astronaut candidates were chosen from more than 18,300 people who submitted applications from December 2015 to February 2016. This was more than double the previous record of 8,000 set in 1978.

Meet them…

Kayla Barron

This Washington native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

She enjoys hiking, backpacking, running and reading.

Zena Cardman

Zena is a native of Virginia and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research has focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments.

In her free time, she enjoys canoeing, caving, raising backyard chickens and glider flying.

Raja Chari

Raja is an Iowa native and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with Bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

He has accumulated more than 2,000 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16 and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Matthew Dominick

This Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

He has more than 1,600 hours of flight time in 28 aircraft, 400 carrier-arrested landigns and 61 combat missions.

Bob Hines

Bob is a Pennsylvania native and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he earned a Master’s degree in Flight Test Engineering. He continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama.

During the last five years, he has served as a research pilot at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Warren Hoburg

Nicknamed “Woody”, this Pennsylvania native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkley.

He is an avid rock climber, moutaineer and pilot.

Jonny Kim

This California native trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in Mathematics at the University of San Diego and a Doctorate of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

His interests include spending time with his family, volunteering with non-profit vertern organizations, academic mentoring, working out and learning new skills.

Robb Kulin

Robb is an Alaska native and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver, before going on to complete a Master’s degree in Materials Science and a Doctorate in Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

He is a private pilot and also enjoys playing piano, photography, packrafting, running, cycling, backcountry skiing and SCUBA diving.

Jasmin Moghbeli

This New York native earned a Bachlor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has accumulated mofre than 1,600 hours of flight time and 150 combat missions.

Loral O’Hara

This Texas native earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University.

In her free time, she enjoys working in the garage, traveling, surfing, diving, flying, sailing, skiing, hiking/orienteering, caving, reading and painting.

Frank Rubio

Frank is a Florida native and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and earned a Doctorate of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

He is a board certified family physician and flight surgeon. At the time of his selection, he was serving in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Jessica Watkins

This Colorado native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

She enjoys soccer, rock climbing, skiing and creative writing.

After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and launching on deep space missions on our new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

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‪5yo: “I can’t believe we spotted JUPITER!"‬
‪Me: "You should work for NASA!"‬
‪5yo: "What’s that?"‬
‪Me: "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration."‬
‪5yo: "Oh, I don’t think I can work there. I’m 5."‬