The NF-15B ACTIVE is the most
maneuverable of any F-15 variant, but she didn’t start out that way.
This airframe, originally designated the TF-15B (USAF serial number
71-0290), looked much like a typical F-15. She took her first flight
on July 7, 1973, as the first two-seat F-15 in history and the sixth
F-15 to roll off the assembly line.
On September 7, 1988, she would
have her “second first flight” following major modifications as
the STOL/MTD (Short Takeoff and Landing/Maneuver Technology
Demonstrator). Modified F-18 stabilators were put in place forward of
the wing as canards. Thrust vectoring in the pitch axis was also
implemented, allowing takeoff rotation at only 39 knots and drastically
shorter landing distances.
In 1991, the STOL/MTD test program
ended, and the USAF loaned the airframe to NASA, who modified it into
the NF-15B ACTIVE (Advanced Control Technology for Integrated
Vehicles). The pitch thrust vectoring was traded for nozzles that
could be vectored in pitch and yaw. This allowed for
incredible maneuverability. The bird could perform yawing maneuvers
while flying at 30 degrees angle of attack.
Although never implemented, there
were plans to further modify this airframe by removing the vertical
tail planes, allowing thrust vectoring to be wholly responsible for
yawing maneuvers. This would have been called the F-15 MANX, named
after the naturally tailless cat.
After decades of serving NASA
Dryden Flight Research Center (now NASA Armstrong) as a successful
experimental testbed for many different test programs, the NF-15
ACTIVE took its final flight in January 2009. On this last flight,
she was the oldest still flying F-15. In July of 2015, she was put on static display at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force
After sunset on September 1, an exceptionally intense, reddish airglow flooded this Chilean winter night skyscape. Above a sea of clouds and flanking the celestial Milky Way, the airglow seems to ripple and flow across the northern horizon in atmospheric waves. Originating at an altitude similar to aurorae, the luminous airglow is instead due to chemiluminescence, the production of light through chemical excitation. Commonly captured with a greenish tinge by sensitive digital cameras, this reddish airglow emission is from OH molecules and oxygen atoms at extremely low densities and has often been present in southern hemisphere nights during the last few years. On this night it was visible to the eye, but seen without color. Antares and the central Milky Way lie near the top, with bright star Arcturus at left. Straddling the Milky Way close to the horizon are Vega, Deneb, and Altair, known in northern nights as the stars of the Summer Triangle.
Interesting mission patches for the would-be Apollo 18 and 19 missions. I’m not sure how official they were, but not counting the Apollo/Soyuz or Skylab missions, the Apollo moon missions ended with 17.
Today Boeing unveiled their space taxi manufacturing facility in Kennedy Space Center.
These guys mean business, especially considering how hot on their heels SpaceX is. That said, they’re making impressive steps in the right direction.
Their new spacecraft, the CST-100, will be carrying seven American astronauts to the International Space Station. It will likely be America’s first spacecraft to carry American’s into space since the space shuttles were retired years ago.
The facility unveiling ceremony today also involved the revealing of their spacecraft’s name:
Personally, I love it. It fits the theme of their famous 787 Dreamliner jet. They’ll be selling seats on the CST-100 Starliner to interested people wanting a trip to the space station.
I’m totally geeking out over Boeing right now. I’m extremely happy to see that this is actually happening.