Big Blue 4: Mars Aircraft Development and Flight Testing

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract The objective of the BIG BLUE 4 program is to positively impact the development of NASA's future workforce by establishing sustainable opportunities for students and faculty based on the successes of the first three years of the BIG BLUE inflatable-wing Mars airplane project. Included in this program is the culminating flight experiment to demonstrate the feasibility of inflatable wings for Mars exploration and efforts to sustain and expand the opportunities for students and public outreach. The BIG BLUE project involves undergraduate students in a unique opportunity to experience the excitement of research and development of a complex aerospace system including state-of-the-art technology and interaction with aerospace industry professionals. In essence, students join the aerospace workforce while participating in this project, influencing their decision to choose and pursue an aerospace career when such a choice is less likely without their involvement. Four overlapping and complimentary efforts comprise the BIG BLUE 4 program: 1) Mars aircraft development and flight testing, 2) autonomous technology development for student UAV competitions, 3) the culminating balloon-launched inflatable-wing Mars airplane flight experiment and 4) expanding the impact of the BIG BLUE multi-disciplinary Mars exploration R&D project as a focus for aerospace workforce development. This proposal is for the first effort in this endeavor and focuses on the development and flight testing of a Mars aircraft prototype. Student groups in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering will carry out the design, construction, and testing of the vehicle. These student groups will closely interact with engineers and scientists from NASA and industry on their design and testing program. Like previous BIG BLUE efforts, student film makers will document the project for use in outreach and student recruitment. 2
Effective start/end date1/1/066/30/07


  • Western Kentucky University: $60,474.00


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