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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sonic Booms and Unmanned Drones: What an Awesome Day at Edwards AFB!

Posing with an F/A-18 Hornet and F-15 Eagle at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards Air Force Base, CA...on May 31, 2016.

Earlier today, I attended a NASA Social event at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in Edwards Air Force Base, California. I haven't been to a NASA-hosted social media gathering since December of 2014...when I drove down to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Pasadena to celebrate the maiden launch of Orion on Exploration Flight Test 1. This is my third Social since the NASA Tweetup I went to in June of 2011...which also took place at JPL and celebrated the then-impending launch of the Curiosity Mars rover.

Arrived at Edwards Air Force Base early in the morning to attend the NASA Social at Armstrong Flight Research Center...on May 31, 2016.

Today's event was devoted to learning about how the noise level of sonic booms can be reduced to avoid causing disruption in populated areas...and applying this knowledge to an experimental aircraft that NASA is planning to build, known as the Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport—or QueSST. During the Social, we stood outside at one point and watched as an F/A-18 Hornet performed several so-called “low-boom dive maneuvers” to demonstrate different sonic boom intensities. The F/A-18 then did a low flyover near our area so we could get some cool snapshots and video footage of the jet before it landed.

Posing for a group photo with some of my fellow NASA Social attendees outside the Edwards Air Force Base perimeter...on May 31, 2016.

Afterwards, we walked over to various hangars that housed other aircraft being used by AFRC, such as two F-15 Eagles, a Gulfstream III aircraft, as well as the Ikhana Predator B (which I also learned about during the NASA Social in December of 2014) and RQ-4 Global Hawk drones. The twin Solid Rocket Boosters that will be transported to the California Science Center to be mated with shuttle fuel tank ET-94 and orbiter Endeavour in 2018 were at a hangar nearby, but visiting these wasn't on today's itinerary so we were unable to check them out. Oh well.

An Ikhana Predator B drone and Gulfstream III aircraft rest inside a hangar at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards Air Force Base...on May 31, 2016.

I'm currently on the waiting list to attend another NASA Social at JPL during the Independence Day weekend (on July 3-4, specifically). Hopefully, I'll be able to get selected for the event if one of the confirmed attendees drops out. This Social is commemorating the arrival of NASA's Juno spacecraft at Jupiter on July 4...and I want to be at JPL's Space Flight Operations Facility (a.k.a. mission control) to witness this event unfold in person! Carry on.

LINK: Photos I took at the May 2016 NASA Social

Posing with an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone inside a hangar at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards Air Force Base...on May 31, 2016.

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