NASA Langley Research Center has ordered a full-scale Mars airplane prototype from Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. (www.aurora.aero) as part of the Mars Scout Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey project. Designed to demonstrate flight-weight components and actual aerodynamics, the prototype plane is scheduled to make its first flight later this year with a deployment test in the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere. In 2002 Aurora and NASA Langley successfully demonstrated a half-scale version of the airplane in a series of low- and high-altitude drop tests where it unfolded from a protective shell.
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