This mil/aero geek is ecstatic that NASA has the resources, since the decommissioning of the shuttles, to start acting as a catalyst for the development of game-changing, space-related technologies. A couple really interesting stories have surfaced recently that have intrigued aerospace geeks, myself included. The most noteworthy is…wait for it…warp speed research!
That’s right. You read that correctly. NASA is dedicating resources to the research and development of faster-than-light propulsion at Eagleworks, the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. The NASA research division’s name, Eagleworks, pays homage to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.
Odd name? Yes, but one recognized by aerospace enthusiasts, especially those involved in military aviation. Actually, Skunk Works is a popular alias for Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs (ADP). Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is responsible for the development of several popular aircraft: the U-2, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk, F-22 Raptor, and most recently, the F-35 Lightning II.
Eagleworks is dedicated to discovering solutions that will enable the design, development, and full realization of advanced propulsion systems. Research at Eagleworks is headed by NASA Engineer Harold “Sonny” White, a mechanical and aerospace engineer who is the Advanced Propulsion Theme Lead for the NASA Engineering Directorate and is well known for advanced propulsion projects and his dedication to the pursuit of human space flight.
“Sonny is a pretty unique person,” says John Applewhite, White’s boss and head of the Propulsion Systems Branch within the JSC Engineering Directorate. “He’s definitely a visionary, but he’s also an engineer. He can take his vision and turn it into a useful engineering product.”