Founded in 1917 as the Nation's first civilian aeronautical research facility, NASA Langley Research Center, located in Hampton, Virginia, is NASA's oldest field center. Originally established under the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, its original mission was to "supervise and direct the scientific study of the problems of flight with a view to their practical solution". Over the last nearly 100 years, NASA Langley has become a world-class research, science, and technology development center that provides systems-level, multi-disciplinary solutions across all technical readiness levels, from concept to flight. With a rich history of dedication, innovation, and creativity, NASA Langley continues to conduct groundbreaking research, and develops and demonstrates critical technologies that address national priorities in aeronautic applications, space exploration, and Earth sciences.

The Center's product lines are focused on research and technology development across seven primary areas:

  • Atmospheric Characterization
  • Systems Analysis and Concepts
  • Advanced Materials and Structural Systems
  • Aerosciences
  • Entry, Descent, and Landing
  • Measurement Systems
  • Intelligent Flight Systems

The Atmospheric Characterization product line identifies, designs, and executes missions to create data from measurements of the atmosphere to answer scientific questions. The products are aligned with the focus outlined by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and with the National Research Council's Decadal Survey Reports. NASA Langley focuses on:

  • Radiation and climate
  • Air quality
  • Atmospheric composition
  • Active remote sensing

Systems Analysis and Concepts defines future architectures, vehicles, or operational concepts within a physics-based multi-disciplinary, variable fidelity environment to determine the performance, cost, risk, and schedule feasibility and systems requirements to enable customers to make informed technical, programmatic, and budgetary decisions. NASA Langley focuses on:

  • Integrated airspace and vehicle concepts
  • Space mission, architectures, and vehicle concepts
  • Decision analysis and independent assessments

Measurement Systems is one of the most quickly evolving fields, and new measurement capabilities are a key driver for both science and technology. New measurement methods yield new views of the world that are often disruptive, resulting in new discoveries and breakthroughs in understanding. New measurements often result in a requirement for higher fidelity measurements. NASA Langley focuses on:

  • Remote sensing of atmospheric chemistry/characterization
  • Terrain/target characterization
  • Flow characterization
  • Vehicle structural state
  • Vehicle dynamic state
  • Vehicle electromagnetic state

Advanced Materials and Structural Systems researches, develops, and integrates new materials, spaced-based manufacturing and assembly technologies, structural concepts, design/analysis tools, and certification methods for aircraft, aerospace vehicles, space habitats, and space-based sensor systems. The group provides these products to NASA programs and projects, other government agencies, and commercial customers. Advanced materials being developed and/or researched at Langley range from coatings (on aircraft to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency) to boron nitride nanotubes (potential use in medical applications, radiation shielding, electric insulation, high-temperature tolerant lightweight ceramic composites, etc.).

The Aerosciences product line provides validated aerodynamic, aeroelasticity, noise control, flight dynamics/controls, and propulsion-airframe integration tools and technologies to improve, innovate, design, and develop advanced atmospheric flight and space vehicle concepts. NASA Langley focuses on:

  • Aerodynamics design/analysis
  • Aeroelasticity/aeroservoelasticity capability
  • Propulsion and propulsion-airframe integration (including hypersonic air-breathing)
  • Vehicle flight dynamics and control technologies
  • Noise control technologies
  • Flow control technologies
  • Physics-based mod-sim development for aerosciences
  • National leadership

Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) is a critical technology that enables many of NASA's landmark missions, including Earth re-entry, Moon landings, and robotic landings on Mars. EDL consists of four sub-technology areas: aero-assist and entry (the phase from arrival through hypersonic flight), descent (hypersonic flight to the terminal phase of landing, including atmospheric modeling), landing (terminal descent to the final touchdown), and vehicle systems technology. NASA Langley focuses on:

  • Mission design and flight operations services
  • Integrated systems simulations, flight mechanics, and performance analyses
  • Flight vehicle technology development and system solutions
  • Aerodynamic and aeroheating environments and databases
  • Advanced mod-sim methods for EDL

The Intelligent Flight Systems (conceived, developed, and validated in-flight) product line develops integrated flight systems that incorporate new technologies and/or new vehicle concepts and/or new operational concepts, and validates the performance of these systems through physical testing (ground and flight) and/or virtual testing (modeling and simulation) in relevant operating conditions. A great resource for unique inside-NASA stories, successes, and goals is the NASA Edge: