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Flight Test and Measurement Technologies


Scope Title:

Flight Test and Measurement Technologies

Scope Description:

NASA continues to use flight research as a critical element in the maturation of technology. This includes developing test techniques that improve the control of in-flight test conditions, expand measurement and analysis methodologies, and improve test data acquisition and management with sensors and systems that have fast response, low volume, minimal intrusion, and high accuracy and reliability. By using state-of-the-art flight test techniques along with novel measurement and data acquisition technologies, NASA and the aerospace industry will be able to conduct flight research more effectively and meet the challenges presented by NASA’s and industry’s cutting-edge research and development programs.

NASA's Flight Demonstrations and Capabilities (FDC) Project supports a variety of flight regimes and vehicle types, ranging from low-speed, subsonic applications and electric propulsion through transonic and high-speed flight regimes. Therefore, this subtopic covers a wide range of flight conditions and vehicles.

NASA also requires improved measurement and analysis techniques for acquisition of real-time, in-flight data used to determine aerodynamic, structural, flight control, and propulsion system performance characteristics. These data will be used to provide information necessary to safely expand the flight and test envelopes of aerospace vehicles and components. This requirement includes the development of sensors for both in situ and remote sensing to enhance the monitoring of test aircraft safety and atmospheric conditions during flight testing.

Flight test and measurement technology proposals may significantly enhance the capabilities of major government and industry flight test facilities. Proposals may address innovative methods and technologies to reduce costs and extend the health, maintainability, communication, and test techniques of flight research support facilities to directly enhance flight test and measurement.

For this year’s solicitation, areas of interest emphasizing flight test and measurement technologies will be focusing on digital data processing, telemetry, and optical sensing:

  • High-efficiency, secure, digital telemetry techniques and/or systems to enable high-data rate and high-volume telemetry for flight test, including air-to-air and air-to-ground communication.
  • Improved processing technologies that can perform low-latency, near-real-time telemetry processing that can utilize open-source operating system.
  • Real-time integration of multiple data sources from onboard, off-board, satellite, and ground-based measurement equipment, including recording of data bus/avionics architectures.
  • Optical-based measurement methods that capture data in various spectra for conducting quantitative in-flight boundary layer flow visualization and atmospheric modeling.
  • Improved ruggedized, wide-bandwidth, wavelength-sweeping laser system design for in situ flight structural health monitoring to be operated in aircraft.

The emphasis here is for technology, preferably both flight hardware prototype(s) and software package(s), to be developed for flight test and flight test facility needs.

The technologies developed for this subtopic directly address the technical challenges in the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) Integrated Aviation Systems Program (IASP) and FDC (Flight Demonstration and Capabilities) Project. The FDC Project conducts complex flight research demonstrations to support multiple ARMD programs. FDC is seeking to enhance flight research and test capabilities necessary to address and achieve the ARMD strategic plan. Technologies for this subtopic could also support Advanced Air Vehicle Program (AAVP) projects, including Commercial Supersonic Technology (CST) and Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology (RVLT), as well as the Aerosciences Evaluation and Test Capabilities (AETC) Portfolio Office.

For technologies focused on ground testing or operations, please consider submitting to subtopic A1.08 (Aeronautics Ground Test and Measurement Technologies), as ground testing technologies will be considered out of scope for the A2.01 subtopic.

For technologies with space-only applications, please consider submitting to a related subtopic in the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), as space-only technologies will be considered out of scope for the A2.01 subtopic.

Proposals that focus solely on flight vehicle development rather than focusing on technologies applicable to flight test and measurement will be considered out of scope for the A2.01 subtopic.

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of the Project: 3 to 6

Primary Technology Taxonomy:

  • Level 1 15 Flight Vehicle Systems
  • Level 2 15.2 Flight Mechanics

Desired Deliverables of Phase I and Phase II:

  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Prototype
  • Hardware
  • Software

Desired Deliverables Description:

For a Phase I effort, the small business is expected to generate a mid-term report showing progress of the work. A summary report is expected at the end of Phase I that describes the research effort's successes, failures, and the proposed path ahead.

For a Phase II effort, the small business should show a maturation of the technology that allows for a presentation of a thorough demonstration. Most ideally, the small business would deliver a prototype that includes beta-style or better hardware and/or software that is suitable to work in ground testing and can be proven, via relevant environment testing, to work in a flight environment. This relevant environment testing would satisfy NASA’s technical readiness level (TRL) expectations at the end of Phase II.

State of the Art and Critical Gaps:

Current atmospheric flight systems cover a large range of uses, from point-to-point drones to high-performance small aircraft to large transports to general aviation. In all areas, advancements can be possible if insights can be gained, studied, and used to create new technologies. New insights will require an evolution of current testing and measurement techniques as well as novel forms and implementations. Known gaps include advanced telemetry techniques; intelligent internal state monitoring for air and space vehicles; techniques for studying sonic booms, including novel photography techniques; advanced techniques for capturing all dimensions of system operation and vehicle health (spatial/spectral/temporal); and extreme environment, high-speed, large-area distributive sensing techniques. Along with these comes the need for secure telemetry of data to ensure informed operation of the flight system.

Relevance / Science Traceability:

The technologies developed for this subtopic directly address the technical and capability challenges in ARMD's FDC Project. FDC conducts complex flight research demonstrations to support various ARMD programs. FDC is seeking to enhance flight research and test capabilities necessary to address and achieve ARMD’s strategic plan. 


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