Thursday, June 18, 2009

Aeronautics not just space

Posted By John McHale

Walking through the U.S. Pavilion today at the Paris Air Show I was handed a NASA sticker by a tall, friendly guy wondering if I knew that NASA did aeronautics and not just space -- because the first A in NASA stands for aeronautics as in National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

I said of course I do, but failed to impress him with any other NASA aeronautical facts, so he decided to share a few with me in NASA's booth at the show.

Apparently NASA aeronautics expertise was behind the development of glass cockpits, icing sensors, and lightening protection for military avionics in fighter jets.

I asked is there anything new on the lightening front? He said no, not in the last few years.

So why is NASA here if not to talk about anything new?

To let people know that it is much more than a space exploration outfit, and does quite a bit of technology development for aeronautics and even for the environment, he replied.

Then I was handed a nice looking brochure on the X-48B test plane as an example. The experimental plane is designed with a flat, tailless fuselage to burn less fuel and produce less Carbon dioxide.

I asked NASA is here just to give a history lesson?

He nodded and said yes that's a big part of it.

Seems like a lot of tax payer money to spend on travel and an exhibit to go give a history lesson on a subject, which he admitted is a small part of the NASA budget.

However, I did walk away knowing something I didn't know before about NASA.

I guess that was the point.

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