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XPONENTIAL Innovation Preview -- www.allthingsunmanned.com

Wed, Apr 30, 2003

NASA Orders Mars Airplane Prototype

Full-Scale Prototype to Fly This Year

Aurora Flight Sciences just got an order from the NASA Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA) for a full-scale prototype of a proposed Mars airplane. The aircraft is being built as part of the Mars Scout Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) project of which Dr. Joel S. Levine is the Principal Investigator.

In 2002 Aurora and NASA Langley successfully demonstrated a half-scale version of the airplane in a series of low altitude and high altitude drop tests. The new airplane is to be a full-scale version, designed to demonstrate flight-weight components and actual aerodynamics. The prototype plane is scheduled to make its first flight later this year with a deployment test in the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere.

"This demonstration is another important step on the road to flying the first airplane in another planetary atmosphere," said Aurora's President, Dr. John S. Langford. "We are excited to be a part of NASA's team in this historic endeavor."

The ARES team includes NASA Langley Research Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Astronautics, in addition to Aurora.

FMI: www.aurora.aero

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