Dryden Flight Research Center

Dryden Flight Research Center

Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) is NASA's foremost installation for atmospheric flight operations and flight research. Located at Edwards Air Force Base, Dryden uses a variety of specialized research aircraft and demonstrators to study high-speed and high-altitude environments. Among the aims of this work are to find ways of cutting long-distance flight travel times and develop new aircraft configurations and structures to increase agility.


DFRC's origins go back to 1946 when a small team of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) engineers came to Muroc Army Airfield (now Edwards AFB) to prepare for X-1 tests in a joint NACA–Air Force program. The following year NACA's Muroc Flight Test Unit was formed, which in 1949 became the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station with Walt Williams as its chief. The center was eventually named after Hugh Dryden.


Over the years, all of NASA's high-performance aircraft and flight research vehicles have flown from here including all of the X-planes, the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle or "Flying Bedstead," and the Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise. Most recently, Dryden has been involved in test flights of the X-38 lifeboat for the International Space Station and various solar-powered aircraft.