Newly painted NASA Global Hawk #872 sits next
to soon to be painted Global Hawk #95-2001 at
Edwards AFB 12/3/07
Photo: NASA / Tony Landis
5/15/2008 - EDWARDS, CA -- NASA’s Dryden Flight
Research Center and the Northrop Grumman Corporation
have reached an agreement that will enable NASA's
Science Mission Directorate to conduct Earth science
research with the Northrop Grumman-developed RQ-4
Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system.
Under a Space Act Agreement signed April 30, NASA and
Northrop Grumman will bring to flight in 2009 two
pre-production Global Hawk aircraft that were recently
transferred to NASA. Northrop Grumman will share in
their use to conduct its own flight demonstrations for
expanded markets, missions and airborne capabilities,
including integration of unmanned aircraft systems
into the national airspace.
The two Global Hawk aircraft, among the first seven
built during the original Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency sponsored Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstration program, were transferred to NASA Dryden
from the U.S. Air Force in September 2007. NASA
acquired the two aircraft for research activities
supporting its Airborne Science Program.
“This innovative partnership not only provides for
the activation of the Global Hawk flight operations at
NASA Dryden, but also sets the stage for an exciting
future of collaborative science missions and
technology experiments,” said Kevin L. Petersen, NASA
Dryden director. "The capabilities of this platform
are unique and will provide NASA and Northrop Grumman
some exceptional opportunities to advance technology
and science through flight."
As the world’s first fully autonomous, high-altitude,
long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, Global Hawk
can fly up to 65,000 feet for more than 31 hours at a
time. The aircraft have a range of 11,000 nautical
miles. Its endurance and exceptional range allow for a
non-stop flight from Dryden in Southern California to
the North Pole with a seven-hour loiter period before
returning. To date, Global Hawks have flown more than
22,000 hours in military service with the Air Force.
The primary NASA sponsor is the Earth Science
Division of the Science Mission Directorate. The
division is developing plans to capitalize on the
extreme range and dwell time of the Global Hawk for
atmospheric chemistry and radiation science missions
in addition to hurricane research.
"We are looking forward to working with our National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department
of Energy partners to explore the unique capabilities
of the Global Hawk to augment the current satellite
and aircraft based observation systems NASA uses,"
adds Dr. Michael Freilich, NASA's Earth Science
Division director, NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Global Hawk also has many potential applications in
addition to the advancement of science, including
development of disaster support capabilities and
development of advanced unmanned aircraft systems
technologies. In October 2007, Air Force Global Hawks
were used to monitor wildfires in Southern California.
"Global Hawk's range, endurance and altitude make it
particularly suited to a broad range of applications,"
said Corey Moore, sector vice president of Advanced
Concepts and Integrated Solutions for Northrop
Grumman. "Access to these two flight test vehicles
will allow us to more fully explore new potential
missions for this remarkable system."
Source: NASA Dryden Press Release