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Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards Air Force Base

Overview
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 base located on the border of Kern County
Kern County, California
Spreading across the southern end of the California Central Valley, Kern County is the fifth-largest county by population in California. Its economy is heavily linked to agriculture and to petroleum extraction, and there is a strong aviation and space presence. Politically, it has generally...

, Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 9,818,605, making it the most populous county in the United States. Los Angeles County alone is more populous than 42 individual U.S. states...

, and San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County, California
San Bernardino County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,035,210, up from 1,709,434 as of the 2000 census...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, in the Antelope Valley
Antelope Valley
The Antelope Valley in California, United States, is located in northern Los Angeles County and the southeastern portion of Kern County, California, and constitutes the western tip of the Mojave Desert...

. It is 6 nautical miles (11.1 km) southwest of the central business district
Central business district
A central business district is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city. In North America this part of a city is commonly referred to as "downtown" or "city center"...

 of North Edwards, California
North Edwards, California
North Edwards is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, United States. North Edwards is located south-southeast of Castle Butte and north of Edwards Air Force Base, at an elevation of 2293 feet...

 and 7 miles (11.3 km) due east of Rosamond
Rosamond, California
Rosamond is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, USA, north of Palmdale, in the Antelope Valley, the westernmost desert valley of the Mojave Desert. Rosamond is also south of Mojave, , and north of Lancaster at an elevation of 2342 feet...

.

It is named in memory of U.S. Air Force test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

 Glen Edwards
Glen Edwards (pilot)
Glen Edwards was a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and is the namesake of Edwards Air Force Base.Edwards was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, where he lived until 1931. At age 13, his parents moved the family to California, settling in Lincoln, northeast of Sacramento...

, who died, along with the crew of five, June 5, 1948 northwest of the base while testing the YB-49 Flying Wing.

Designated as the Air Force Flight Test Center
Air Force Flight Test Center
The Air Force Flight Test Center conducts research, development, test, and evaluation of aerospace systems from concept to deployment. It has test flown every aircraft in the U.S. Air Force's inventory since World War II...

 (AFFTC), Edwards is home to the 412th Test Wing
412th Test Wing
The 412th Test Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force, assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California.-Overview:...

, the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Dryden Flight Research Center
Dryden Flight Research Center
The Dryden Flight Research Center , located inside Edwards Air Force Base, is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. On March 26, 1976 it was named in honor of the late Hugh L. Dryden, a prominent aeronautical engineer who at the time of his death in 1965 was NASA's deputy administrator...

.
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Encyclopedia
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 base located on the border of Kern County
Kern County, California
Spreading across the southern end of the California Central Valley, Kern County is the fifth-largest county by population in California. Its economy is heavily linked to agriculture and to petroleum extraction, and there is a strong aviation and space presence. Politically, it has generally...

, Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 9,818,605, making it the most populous county in the United States. Los Angeles County alone is more populous than 42 individual U.S. states...

, and San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County, California
San Bernardino County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,035,210, up from 1,709,434 as of the 2000 census...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, in the Antelope Valley
Antelope Valley
The Antelope Valley in California, United States, is located in northern Los Angeles County and the southeastern portion of Kern County, California, and constitutes the western tip of the Mojave Desert...

. It is 6 nautical miles (11.1 km) southwest of the central business district
Central business district
A central business district is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city. In North America this part of a city is commonly referred to as "downtown" or "city center"...

 of North Edwards, California
North Edwards, California
North Edwards is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, United States. North Edwards is located south-southeast of Castle Butte and north of Edwards Air Force Base, at an elevation of 2293 feet...

 and 7 miles (11.3 km) due east of Rosamond
Rosamond, California
Rosamond is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, USA, north of Palmdale, in the Antelope Valley, the westernmost desert valley of the Mojave Desert. Rosamond is also south of Mojave, , and north of Lancaster at an elevation of 2342 feet...

.

It is named in memory of U.S. Air Force test pilot
Test pilot
A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated....

 Glen Edwards
Glen Edwards (pilot)
Glen Edwards was a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and is the namesake of Edwards Air Force Base.Edwards was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, where he lived until 1931. At age 13, his parents moved the family to California, settling in Lincoln, northeast of Sacramento...

, who died, along with the crew of five, June 5, 1948 northwest of the base while testing the YB-49 Flying Wing.

Overview


Designated as the Air Force Flight Test Center
Air Force Flight Test Center
The Air Force Flight Test Center conducts research, development, test, and evaluation of aerospace systems from concept to deployment. It has test flown every aircraft in the U.S. Air Force's inventory since World War II...

 (AFFTC), Edwards is home to the 412th Test Wing
412th Test Wing
The 412th Test Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force, assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California.-Overview:...

, the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, and NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's Dryden Flight Research Center
Dryden Flight Research Center
The Dryden Flight Research Center , located inside Edwards Air Force Base, is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. On March 26, 1976 it was named in honor of the late Hugh L. Dryden, a prominent aeronautical engineer who at the time of his death in 1965 was NASA's deputy administrator...

. It is operated and maintained by the 95th Air Base Wing
95th Air Base Wing
The 95th Air Base Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force Materiel Command Air Force Flight Test Center. The unit is stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and is the host unit at Edwards....

 as a part of the Air Force Materiel Command
Air Force Materiel Command
Air Force Materiel Command is a major command of the United States Air Force. AFMC was created July 1, 1992 through the reorganization of Air Force Logistics Command and Air Force Systems Command....

. Almost every United States
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 military aircraft
Military aviation
Military aviation is the use of aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling warfare, including national airlift capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a theater or along a front. Air power includes the national means of conducting such...

 since the 1950s has been at least partially tested at Edwards, and it has been the site of many aviation breakthroughs.

The base is next to Rogers Dry Lake
Rogers Dry Lake
Rogers Dry Lake is an endorheic desert salt pan in the Mojave Desert of Kern County, California. The lake derives its name from the Anglicization from the Spanish name, Rodriguez Dry Lake. It is the central part of Edwards Air Force Base as its hard surface provides a natural extension to the...

, an endorheic desert salt pan
Salt pan (geology)
Natural salt pans are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun. They are found in deserts, and should not be confused with salt evaporation ponds.A salt pan is formed where water pools...

 whose hard dry lake
Dry lake
Dry lakes are ephemeral lakebeds, or a remnant of an endorheic lake. Such flats consist of fine-grained sediments infused with alkali salts. Dry lakes are also referred to as alkali flats, sabkhas, playas or mud flats...

 surface provides a natural extension to Edwards' runway
Runway
According to ICAO a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft." Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface .- Orientation and dimensions :Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally one tenth...

s. This large landing area, combined with excellent year-round weather, makes the base perfect for flight testing. The lake is a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

.

Notable occurrences at Edwards include Chuck Yeager
Chuck Yeager
Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound...

's flight that broke the sound barrier
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 in the Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

, test flights of the North American X-15
North American X-15
The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAAF/USAF, NACA/NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and...

, the first landings of the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

, and the 1986 around-the-world flight of the Rutan Voyager.

Units

  • 95th Air Base Wing
    95th Air Base Wing
    The 95th Air Base Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force Materiel Command Air Force Flight Test Center. The unit is stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and is the host unit at Edwards....

The 95th Air Base Wing is the host wing for Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. -- the 2nd largest base in the Air Force. The wing oversees base day-to-day operations and provides support for over 10,000 military, federal civilian and contract personnel assigned to a 470 square miles (1,217.3 km²) installation.

  • 412th Test Wing
    412th Test Wing
    The 412th Test Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force, assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California.-Overview:...

     (Tail Code: ED)
The 412th Test Wing plans, conducts, analyzes, and reports on all flight and ground testing of aircraft, weapons systems, software and components as well as modeling and simulation for the U.S. Air Force. There are three core components for this mission: flying operations, maintenance, and engineering.
412th Test Management Group
416th Flight Test Squadron
416th Flight Test Squadron
The 416th Flight Test Squadron is part of the 412th Test Wing and is based at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It performs flight testing on F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.-History:...

 - F-15, F-16, T-38
418th Flight Test Squadron
418th Flight Test Squadron
The 418th Flight Test Squadron is part of the 412th Test Wing and is based at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It performs flight testing on MC-130H Combat Talon II and AC-130U Spooky aircraft.-History:...

 - Tankers, Transporters
419th Flight Test Squadron
419th Flight Test Squadron
The 419th Flight Test Squadron is part of the 412th Test Wing and is based at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It performs flight testing on B-1 Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and EA-6B Prowler aircraft as well as Advanced Cruise Missiles.-History:Established as...

 - Bombers
445th Flight Test Squadron
445th Flight Test Squadron
The 445th Flight Test Squadron is part of the 412th Test Wing and is based at Edwards Air Force Base, California.-Overview:...

 (TestOps)


There are a vast array of organizations at Edwards that do not fall under the 95th Air Base Wing or the 412th Test Wing. These are called Associate Units. These units do everything from providing an on-base grocery store to testing state-of-the-art rockets.

Main base


Edwards Main Base includes the Dryden Flight Research Center at its north end and is directly connected to the South Base. The Main Base airfield has a control tower
Control tower
A control tower, or more specifically an Air Traffic Control Tower , is the name of the airport building from which the air traffic control unit controls the movement of aircraft on and around the airport. Control towers are also used to control the traffic for other forms of transportation such...

, a TRACON (callsign Joshua), and a Radar Control Facility (callsign Sport). Its ICAO airport code
ICAO airport code
The ICAO airport code or location indicator is a four-character alphanumeric code designating each airport around the world. These codes are defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators.The ICAO codes are used by air traffic...

 is KEDW (IATA
IATA airport code
An IATA airport code, also known an IATA location identifier, IATA station code or simply a location identifier, is a three-letter code designating many airports around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association...

: EDW). As a military airbase, civilian access is severely restricted, but is possible with prior coordination and good reason. There are three lighted, paved runways:
  • 04R/22L is 15024 foot, and an extra 9588 ft (2,922.4 m) of lakebed runway is available at its northerly end. It is equipped with arresting systems approximately 1500 ft (457.2 m) from each end.
  • 04L/22R is 12000 foot and was constructed to temporarily replace 04R/22L while it was being renovated in 2008.


Both 4R and 4L have visual cues for the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 to use on its approach.
  • 06/24 is 8000 foot (this runway is technically part of the South Base) and an extra 10158 foot of lakebed runway is available at its easterly end.


There are 13 other official runways on the Rogers lakebed
Rogers Dry Lake
Rogers Dry Lake is an endorheic desert salt pan in the Mojave Desert of Kern County, California. The lake derives its name from the Anglicization from the Spanish name, Rodriguez Dry Lake. It is the central part of Edwards Air Force Base as its hard surface provides a natural extension to the...

:
  • 17/35 is 39907 foot (primary runway). It is actually marked as three adjacent 300 ft (91.4 m)-wide runways (L, C, and R). Imagery from the 1990s shows an additional approximately 7500 ft (2,286 m) extending to the north from 17L/35R, including a visual cue and centerline markings that extend about 15000 ft (4,572 m) down the currently declared portion of the runway. This extension and the centerline markings are faded in current imagery.
  • 05L/23R is 22175 foot
  • 05R/23L is 14999 foot and is immediately adjacent to 05L/23R at the 23L (easterly) end.
  • 06/24 is 7050 foot. This is not to be confused with the south base 06/24 paved runway (which also extends onto the lakebed), or the north base 06/24 paved runway.
  • 07/25 is 23100 foot
  • 09/27 is 9991 foot
  • 12/30 is 9235 foot. It is actually marked as two adjacent 300 ft (91.4 m)-wide runways (L and R). Runway 30 rolls out onto the compass rose, so its corresponding, unmarked, runway 12 is never used.
  • 15/33 is 29487 foot
  • 18/36 is 23086 foot. It is actually marked as three adjacent 300 ft (91.4 m)-wide runways (L, C, and R).


The Rosamond lakebed
Rosamond Lake
Rosamond Lake is a natural dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert of Kern- and Los Angeles County, California. The shores of the lake are entirely within the borders of Edwards Air Force Base, approximately from Lancaster. The lake is adjacent to Rogers Dry Lake which through the Holocene, together...

 has two runways painted on it:
  • 02/20 is 4 miles (6.4 km) long
  • 11/29 is 4 miles (6.4 km) long


The Main Base is home of the Benefield Anechoic Facility
Benefield Anechoic Facility
Benefield Anechoic Facility is an anechoic chamber located at the southwest side of the Edwards Air Force Base main base. It is currently the world's largest anechoic chamber...

 (BAF), an electromagnetic
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

 and radio frequency
Radio frequency
Radio frequency is a rate of oscillation in the range of about 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency of radio waves, and the alternating currents which carry radio signals...

 testing building. It is also home to the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum, which has over 15 aircraft on display.

Dryden Flight Research Center




Contained inside Edwards Air Force Base is NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) where modern aircraft research is still active (e.g. the Boeing X-45
Boeing X-45
The Boeing X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle is a concept demonstrator for a next generation of completely autonomous military aircraft, developed by Boeing's Phantom Works. Manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, the X-45 was a part of DARPA's J-UCAS project.-Development:Boeing developed...

). The DFRC is home to many of the world's most advanced aircraft. Notable recent research projects include the Controlled Impact Demonstration
Controlled Impact Demonstration
The Controlled Impact Demonstration was a joint project between NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration aimed at acquiring data, as well as demonstrating and testing new technologies, with the intent of improving occupant crash survivability, by crashing a Boeing 720 aircraft...

 and the Linear Aerospike SR-71 Experiment
LASRE
LASRE was NASA's Linear Aerospike SR-71 Experiment which took place at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, until November 1998...

. It is also the home of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft are two extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners that NASA uses to transport Space Shuttle orbiters...

 (SCA), a modified Boeing 747 designed to carry the Space Shuttle back to Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

 in the case the Orbiter landed at Edwards.

Air Force Rocket Research Laboratory



The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Propulsion Directorate maintains a rocket engine test facility
Rocket engine test facility
A rocket engine test facility is a location where rocket engines may be tested on the ground, under controlled conditions. A ground test program is generally required before the engine is certified for flight...

 on and around Leuhman Ridge, just east of Rogers Dry Lake. This facility traces its roots to early Army Air Corps activities.

In 1934, Colonel Hap Arnold assigned an Army Air Corps officer to survey a 300 square miles (777 km²) area of the California desert in order to establish the Muroc remote bombing range. Luehman Ridge, the granite ridge, where two-thirds of the nation's high thrust static rocket stands are located, is named in honor of that young second lieutenant. Arno H. Luehman
Arno H. Luehman
Arno H. Luehman was a Major General in the United States Air Force.-Career:Luehman graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1934. During World War II he served as Chief of Staff of Operations of the Third Air Force and as Chief of Staff of the Thirteenth Air Force. Following the war he...

 rose to the rank of Major General, USAF, before his retirement.

In the late 1940s, during the time of the United States Air Force formation, the facility was selected as a rocket test site. The first test stands were activated in 1952. The Rocket Engine Test Laboratory (RETL) and its personnel conducted "test and evaluation" of rocket sled engines as well as rocket engines for the Bell X-1A, Boeing-Marquardt BOMARC, North American NAVAJO, MACE, Convair ATLAS, Douglas THOR, and other systems.

A major expansion of the facilities in 1957 created the basis for today's full-spectrum research facility encompassing more than 65 square miles (168.3 km²) of the northeast corner of Edwards Air Force Base. It is currently (2008) valued at more than a billion dollars.

In 1959, elements of the Power Plant Laboratory at Dayton, Ohio, were relocated to the Edwards Rocket Engine Test facility. Also in 1959, the first tethered, vertical launch tests of the Minuteman I rocket were conducted in underground test silos. Shortly after these tests, the Minuteman I rocket completed its development and entered the U.S. Air Force's strategic arsenal.

During the 1960s, the need for continued operations and development of both future space and ballistic missile launch systems was signified by the re-designation of the site as the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory in 1953. Work began at this time on large segmented solid rocket motors, alternative liquid rocket engine boosters, high-speed turbo machinery, upper stage propulsion and satellite propulsion, all driven by the need to lessen the cost and complexity of the systems in use. The lab's personnel helped develop the powerful Saturn F-1 rockets which powered the Apollo manned moon missions. The F-1 was an outgrowth of the Air Force E-1 engine research program that transitioned into NASA's Saturn V rocket. In order to accommodate the testing of such large engines, a huge complex of multi-million pound static test stands was constructed on the northeast end of Luehman Ridge. The F-1's thrust chambers, nozzles, and entire engines were validated for NASA and tested with more than 5,000 firings on Luehman Ridge. Each rocket engine generated more than 1500000 pound-forces (6,672,332.4 N), consuming more than three tons of kerosene and liquid oxygen per second.

The late 1960s and 1970s saw the incremental integration of the Minuteman II into the United States Nuclear Arsenal. Also the inception and research and development of both the Peacekeeper and Small ICBM programs. This research continued throughout the 1980s while the Titan II ballistic missile was being phased out and utilized for early spacecraft launch. In this same period, research into the Air Force's XLR-129
XLR-129
The XLR-129 was an ill-fated American rocket engine that used liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propellant. It was developed by Pratt & Whitney and initially was to develop 250,000 lbs of thrust....

 liquid rocket engine had progressed. This engine's high speed turbopump mechanisms developed by the lab and its industrial partners provided the basis for the Space Shuttle's Main Engines. Large segmented solid rocket booster research and testing and the lab facilities insured that the industrial and technological basis for development of future large launch vehicles would be maintained.

In the mid-1980s, the facilities were reorganized and renamed the Air Force Astronautics Laboratory. Its personnel were busy with helping the nation recover from launch failures of the Titan 34-D and the Space Shuttle. Tests of O-rings at the lab independently verified the lack of resilience at very cold temperatures, helping to answer questions regarding the solid rocket boosters used on the Shuttle. At the same time, a large test stand capable of measuring more than eight million pounds of thrust was converted from a former Saturn F-1 large engine test stand to the first vertical large solid rocket booster test stand in the nation, capable of holding the booster in an upright position during the entire firing sequence and measuring its massive thrust. The tests were conducted successfully and assured the nation of access to space for Air Force launch vehicles.

The 1990s saw the consolidation of the myriad Air Force laboratories across the nation into four "SuperLabs". The Edwards rocket testing facilities, by then known as the Astronautics Lab, became an integral part of the Phillips "SuperLab", combining with the Geophysics Lab, Space Technology Center, and the Weapons Lab. The facility was renamed the Phillips Laboratory, Propulsion Directorate. Research at the Phillips Lab focused on the furthering of rocket propulsion technologies through several efforts. Efforts to develop Space Based Interceptors were considered in support of theater missile defense on the Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) program. The High Energy Density Matter (HEDM) project pushed the world of basic research in the area of physics and chemistry to find rocket propellants to surpass the capabilities of propellants existent at that time. The Titan IV Solid Rocket Booster static testing began and successfully ended its validation tests and acceptability as the newest booster in the Air Force, providing an additional 25 percent boost to the Titan launch system. Research and tests were conducted involving the nation's candidates for its next-generation launch systems, X-33, X-34, the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), and a master plan for rocket propulsion technology covering 15 years called Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology (IHPRPT). The IHPRPT plan is a DoD/NASA/Industry initiative that lays out the goals and blueprints for achieving a doubling of rocket propulsion capability by 2010, covering space launch vehicles, tactical and ballistic missiles, and spacecraft propulsion.

A major milestone for the research lab and facility occurred on October 2, 1997. A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the activation and completion of improvements to the lab’s historic Test Stand 1A. The stand is about to embark on its third era of testing the nation's rocket propulsion and launch capabilities. Initial use of the static test stand occurred in the 50's for full-up system testing of Convair's Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The test stand was modified in the early 60's for use in developing and testing the Apollo era Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engine that propelled man to the moon. The third era supports the efforts of Boeing/Rocketdyne, a candidate for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch program. Their Delta IV family of launch vehicles relies on a new core rocket engine technology called RS-68. The engine is designed to generate 650,000 pounds of thrust and is fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

The AFRL combined all four Superlabs and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) into a single lab commanded by Major General Paul, headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB Ohio. The configuration of the nationwide lab is based on research and development topics. The Edwards facility is part of the new Propulsion Directorate which combines Wright-Patterson (Aeropropulsion) and Edwards (Rocket Propulsion) research efforts. No personnel moves were required. The Edwards rocket propulsion facility has approximately 500 researchers, engineers, technicians, and support staff split almost 50/50 between government/military employees and support contractors.

The rocket propulsion group leads a national plan called Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology (IHPRPT) to identify needs, timetables, and demonstrable goals for improvements to rocket propulsion technology. Participants in the plan include all military services, industry, and NASA. The rocket group's research and test projects are integral with the plan and its goals. Their efforts covers ballistic launch, spacelift, tactical, and spacecraft propulsion research and development, with the end goal of doubling the nation's rocket propulsion capabilities by 2010. A key item in that plan is liquid fueled rocket propulsion component integration and testing, called Integrated Powerhead Demonstration or IPD. When complete, IPD technology will be available for application in future liquid rocket engines to enhance performance and save weight and costs. IPD is a combination of research efforts and validation testing to provide new, more efficient portions of the rocket engine that precondition and pump liquid fuels and oxidizers into the main engine. Dual-use components like Hydrostatic Bearings can be applied to rocket engines and commercial refrigeration units. Other efforts at the lab include electric and solar propulsion research, High Energy Density Matter (HEDM) propellant research, and Theater Missile Defense testing.

For more than half a century, the facility and its personnel, teamed together with government and industrial partners, have provided the United States with rocket propulsion that fits the needs of the nation and anticipates the future of propulsion technology. The Edwards Research Site, sometimes called 'The Rock', or simply 'The Lab' by those who work there, is part of the AFRL Propulsion Directorate, which is headquartered at the Wright Research Site, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in Greene and Montgomery counties in the state of Ohio. It includes both Wright and Patterson Fields, which were originally Wilbur Wright Field and Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot. Patterson Field is located approximately...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

.

North Base


North Base is located at the north-west corner of Rogers Lake and is the site of the Air Force's most secret test programs at Edwards. The site has one 6000 by 150 ft (1,828.8 by 45.7 ) paved runway, 06/24, and is accessed from the lakebed or via a single controlled road.

History



A water stop
Water stop
A water stop or water station on a railroad is a place where trains stop to replenish water. The stopping of the train itself is also referred to as "water stop". The term originates from the times of steam engines, when large amounts of water were essential...

 on the Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

 since 1876, the site was largely unsettled until the early 20th century. In 1910, Ralph, Clifford and Effie Corum built a homestead on the edge of Rogers Lake. The Corums proved instrumental in attracting other settlers and building infrastructure in the area, and when a post office
Post office
A post office is a facility forming part of a postal system for the posting, receipt, sorting, handling, transmission or delivery of mail.Post offices offer mail-related services such as post office boxes, postage and packaging supplies...

 was commissioned for the area, they named it Muroc, a reversal of the Corum name, because there was already a town named Corum.

Conscious that March Field was located in an area of increasing growth, and with the need for bombing and gunnery ranges for his units, base and 1st Wing commander Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.The pay...

 Henry H. Arnold
Henry H. Arnold
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and later General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps , Commanding General of the U.S...

 began the process of acquiring land next to the Rogers dry lake for a new bombing range away from population areas in August 1932 (the last tract was not acquired until 1939). The facility established to support the range, initially referred to as "Mohave Field," was Muroc Field. At this time, another colorful character in Edwards' history, Pancho Barnes
Pancho Barnes
Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes was a pioneer aviator, the founder of the first test pilots union and the owner of the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a bar and restaurant. She broke Amelia Earhart's air speed record in 1930...

, built her renowned Rancho Oro Verde Fly-Inn Dude Ranch that would be the scene of many parties and celebrations to come. The dry lake was a hive of hot rodding, with racing on the dry lakes. The runway that the Space Shuttle lands on follows the route that hosted racing in the 1930s.

When Arnold became Chief of the Air Corps in 1938, the service was given a renewed focus on Research and Development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

. Muroc Field drew attention because the nearby dry lake was so flat (Arnold described it as "level as a billiard table") that it could serve as a giant runway, ideal for flight testing. The base debuted its first major test aircraft when the P-59 Airacomet
P-59 Airacomet
The Bell P-59 Airacomet was the first American jet fighter aircraft, designed and built during World War II. The United States Army Air Forces was not impressed by its performance and cancelled the contract when fewer than half of the aircraft ordered had been produced. Although no P-59s went...

, America's first jet aircraft, lifted off on October 1, 1942. Over $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

120 million was spent to develop the base in the 1940s and expand it to 301000 acre (470.3 sq mi; 1,218.1 km²). The base's main 15000 feet (4,572 m) runway was completed in a single pour of concrete.

Post-war flight testing




After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, America found itself in an accelerating race for aerospace technology. Accordingly, the Air Force began the X-plane program in 1946, and development was largely centered at Muroc. On September 30, 1946, five NACA engineers
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

, headed by Walter C. Williams, arrived at Muroc from Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, VA, to prepare for Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

 supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 research flights in a joint NACA-Army Air Forces program. The program produced the Bell X-1, which became the first aircraft to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. Public attention was now firmly centered on Muroc Field, and test activity surged.

So many aircraft were tested in the years after World War II that test pilots logged hundreds of hours each month, often in many different prototype planes. This inevitably led to accidents, and the death rate at Muroc surged. On January 27, 1950, the base was renamed after Glen Edwards, who died while testing a prototype Northrop YB-49. Test pilots were undeterred, and Edwards AFB was designated the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center on June 25, 1951. The X-plane program achieved further successes; the Bell X-2 achieved over 100000 feet (30,480 m) of altitude and speeds greater than Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 3 in 1956.

Throughout the 1950s, American airplanes regularly broke absolute speed and altitude records at Edwards, but nothing compared with the arrival of the North American X-15
North American X-15
The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAAF/USAF, NACA/NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and...

 in 1961. Within a few short years, the X-15 topped Mach 4, 5, and 6, setting a speed record for piloted atmospheric flight of Mach 6.7 on October 3, 1967, that stands today. Furthermore, the X-15 became the first airplane to fly into space on July 19, 1963, when it achieved an altitude of 347800 feet (106,009.4 m). Another aircraft gained world fame in the late 1960s at Edwards: the Lockheed YF-12A, a precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by the Lockheed Skunk Works. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the...

, shattered nine records in one day of testing at Edwards. The SR-71's full capabilities remain classified, but the records set on May 1, 1965 included a sustained speed of 2070 miles per hour (925.4 m/s) and an altitude of 80257 ft (15 mi; 24 km).

On the ground



Extensive aviation research was also conducted on the ground at Edwards. Two rocket sled tracks pioneered important developments and research for the Air Force. The first 2000 feet (609.6 m) foot track was built by Northrop
Northrop Corporation
Northrop Corporation was a leading United States aircraft manufacturer from its formation in 1939 until its merger with Grumman to form Northrop Grumman in 1994. The company is known for its development of the flying wing design, although only a few of these have entered service.-History:Jack...

 in 1944 near what is currently the North Base. Originally intended to help develop a V-1 flying-bomb-style weapon that never left the drawing board, the track found use after the war as a test area for V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

s captured from Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

. Later, Lt. Col. John Stapp
John Stapp
John Paul Stapp, M.D., Ph.D., Colonel, USAF was a career U.S. Air Force officer, USAF flight surgeon and pioneer in studying the effects of acceleration and deceleration forces on humans...

 appropriated the track for his MX981 project and installed what was believed to be one of the most powerful mechanical braking systems ever constructed. His deceleration tests led the press to nickname him the "fastest man on earth" and the "bravest man in the Air Force".

The results from the first track prompted the Air Force to build a second in 1948. Located just south of Rogers Lake, the 10000 feet (3,048 m) track was capable of supersonic speeds. Its first project was the development of the SM-62 Snark
SM-62 Snark
-External links:** Air Force Magazine article about a Snark that was test-fired and rumored to have been found in Brazil** detailed article on Snark and the USAF school to train personnel for it...

 cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

. This track was so successful that an extension was constructed, and on May 13, 1959, the full 20000 feet (6,096 m) track was opened. After the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 had conducted research on the UGM-27 Polaris
UGM-27 Polaris
The Polaris missile was a two-stage solid-fuel nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile built during the Cold War by Lockheed Corporation of California for the United States Navy....

 ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

, the track was used to develop ejection seats that could be used at supersonic speeds. Though this program was a success, a budgetary review concluded that the track was too expensive to maintain and the track was decommissioned on May 24, 1963. Before it was closed, a trial run set a world speed record of Mach 3.3 before the test car broke up. After it closed, the rails were pulled up to help straighten Lancaster Boulevard.

Edwards AFB in the space age



After President Richard M. Nixon announced the Space Shuttle program
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...

 on January 5, 1972, Edwards was chosen for Space Shuttle orbiter
Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Space Shuttle orbiter was the orbital spacecraft of the Space Shuttle program operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. The orbiter was a reusable winged "space-plane", a mixture of rockets, spacecraft, and aircraft...

 testing. The prototype was carried to altitude by the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft are two extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners that NASA uses to transport Space Shuttle orbiters...

 (SCA) and released. In all, 13 test flights were conducted with the Enterprise and the SCA to determine their flight characteristics and handling. After Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

 became the first Shuttle launched into orbit on April 12, 1981, it returned to Edwards for landing. The airbase's immense lakebeds and its proximity to Plant 42
Plant 42
Air Force Plant 42 is a federally owned military aerospace facility under the control of the Air Force Material Command in Palmdale, California...

, where the Shuttle was serviced before relaunch, were important factors in its selection and it continued to serve as the primary landing area for the space shuttle until 1991. Since then, Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

 (KSC) in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 has been favored. This saves the considerable cost of transporting the shuttle from California back to Florida, but Edwards AFB and White Sands Space Harbor
White Sands Space Harbor
White Sands Space Harbor is the primary training area used by NASA for Space Shuttle pilots flying practice approaches and landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft and T-38 Talon aircraft. Its runways, navigational aids, runway lighting, and control facilities also stand continuously ready as a...

 continue to serve as backups. Shuttles have landed at Edwards as recently as August 9, 2005 (STS-114
STS-114
-Original crew:This mission was to carry the Expedition 7 crew to the ISS and bring home the Expedition 6 crew. The original crew was to be:-Mission highlights:...

), June 22, 2007 (STS-117
STS-117
- Crew Notes :The initial crew manifest before the Columbia accident was:Astronaut Mark Polansky was originally slated to pilot this mission, but was moved to STS-116, which he commanded...

), November 30, 2008 (STS-126
STS-126
-Crew notes:Originally scheduled to fly on STS-126 was Joan E. Higginbotham, who was a mission specialist on STS-116. On 21 November 2007, NASA announced a change in the crew manifest due to Higginbotham's decision to leave NASA to take a job in the private sector. Stephen G...

), May 24, 2009 (STS-125
STS-125
STS-125, or HST-SM4 , was the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope .Launch occurred on 11 May 2009 at 2:01 pm EDT...

), and September 11, 2009 (STS-128
STS-128
-Crew notes:Nicole Stott was originally scheduled to return aboard Soyuz TMA-15, but a change in the flight plan was made due to the possible flight delays in future shuttle missions, which may extend Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk's mission beyond the six-month duration preferred for station...

) due to rain and ceiling events at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility. STS-126 was the only shuttle to land on temporary runway 04 at Edwards, as the refurbished main runway will be operational from STS-119
STS-119
-Crew notes:This mission was originally scheduled to bring the Expedition 9 crew to the ISS. This crew would have consisted of:-Mission parameters:* Mass:* Orbiter liftoff: * Orbiter landing: * Perigee: * Apogee:...

 through to the scheduled retirement of the shuttles.

The 1980s also saw Edwards host a demonstration of America's space warfare capabilities as a highly modified F-15 Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

 launched an ASM-135
ASM-135 ASAT
The ASM-135 ASAT is an air-launched anti-satellite multi stage missile that was developed by Ling-Temco-Vought'sLTV Aerospace division. The ASM-135 was carried exclusively by the United States Air Force 's F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft.-Development:...

 anti-satellite missile at the dead P78-1
P78-1
P78-1 or Solwind was a United States satellite launched aboard an Atlas F rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on February 24, 1979. The satellite operated until September 13, 1985, when it was shot down in orbit by an F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft during an US Air Force ASM-135 ASAT...

 (or Solwind) satellite and destroyed it. In 1986, Dick Rutan
Dick Rutan
Richard Glenn "Dick" Rutan is an aviator who piloted the Voyager aircraft around the world non-stop with co-pilot Jeana Yeager...

 and Jeana Yeager
Jeana Yeager
Jeana Yeager is an aviator. She is most famous for co-piloting a non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world in the Rutan Voyager aircraft from 14 to 23 December 1986. The flight took 9 days, 3 minutes, and 44 seconds and covered 24,986 miles , more than doubling the old distance record set by...

 launched from Edwards to set a new aviation record by piloting the first non-stop, around-the-world flight on a single tank of fuel in the Rutan Voyager.

Modern era


In the 21st century, aircraft tested at Edwards include the F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...

, F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals...

, RQ-4 Global Hawk
RQ-4 Global Hawk
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is an unmanned aerial vehicle used by the United States Air Force and Navy as a surveillance aircraft....

, YAL-1 Airborne Laser
Boeing YAL-1
The Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser Testbed, weapons system is a megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser mounted inside a modified Boeing 747-400F. It is primarily designed as a missile defense system to destroy tactical ballistic missiles , while in boost phase. The aircraft was designated...

, the B-52 synthetic fuel program, the C-17 Globemaster III
C-17 Globemaster III
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. Developed for the United States Air Force from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas, the C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout...

, and many prototype unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s (UAVs).

Edwards is among the few U.S. military bases to have gained jobs since the Cold War. Under the DoD's Base Realignment and Closure
Base Realignment and Closure
Base Realignment and Closure is a process of the United States federal government directed at the administration and operation of the Armed Forces, used by the United States Department of Defense and Congress to close excess military installations and realign the total asset inventory to reduce...

 process, several smaller bases have been decommissioned, and their facilities and responsibilities have been sent to Edwards, China Lake, and other large bases. For example, Marine Aircraft Group 46
Marine Aircraft Group 46
Marine Aircraft Group 46 was a United States Marine Corps reserve aviation group based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California with subordinate units spread throughout California. It previously composed of one adversary squadron equipped with the F-5, one CH-46 squadron, one CH-53E...

, Detachment Bravo, two heavy lift helicopter squadrons, were assigned to Edwards after the May 1999 closing of MCAS El Toro
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was a United States Marine Corps Air Station located near Irvine, California.Before it was decommissioned in 1999, it was the home of Marine Corps aviation on the West Coast. Designated as a Master Jet Station, its four runways could handle the largest aircraft...

.

Edwards is also home to several other units from DOD
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

, Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, FAA, USPS
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 and many companies that support the primary mission or the personnel stationed there.

Since 2005, Space Shuttle landings have been common once again at Edwards.

Major Commands to which assigned

  • Ninth Corps Area, USA, September 1933 - January 16, 1941
    • Air Corps, September 1933 - March 1, 1935
    • GHQAF, March 1, 1935 - January 16, 1941
  • Southwest Air District, January 16, 1941 - March 11, 1941
  • 4th AF, March 31, 1941 - July 17, 1944
  • AAF Materiel and Services, July 17, 1944 - August 31, 1944
  • AAF Technical Service Comd, August 31, 1944 - June 6, 1945
  • Continental Air Forces, June 6, 1945 - October 16, 1945
  • Air Technical Service Comd, October 16, 1945 - March 9, 1946
  • Air Materiel Comd, March 9, 1946 - April 2, 1951
  • Air Research and Development Comd, April 2, 1951 - April 1, 1961
  • Air Force Systems Command
    Air Force Systems Command
    Air Force Systems Command is a former United States Air Force command. Its headquarters was located at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland...

    , April 1, 1961 - July 1, 1992
  • Air Force Materiel Command
    Air Force Materiel Command
    Air Force Materiel Command is a major command of the United States Air Force. AFMC was created July 1, 1992 through the reorganization of Air Force Logistics Command and Air Force Systems Command....

    , July 1, 1992–present

Geography


The largest features of the 470 square miles (1,217.3 km²) that make up Edwards AFB are the Rogers Lake
Rogers Dry Lake
Rogers Dry Lake is an endorheic desert salt pan in the Mojave Desert of Kern County, California. The lake derives its name from the Anglicization from the Spanish name, Rodriguez Dry Lake. It is the central part of Edwards Air Force Base as its hard surface provides a natural extension to the...

 and Rosamond Lake
Rosamond Lake
Rosamond Lake is a natural dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert of Kern- and Los Angeles County, California. The shores of the lake are entirely within the borders of Edwards Air Force Base, approximately from Lancaster. The lake is adjacent to Rogers Dry Lake which through the Holocene, together...

 dry lakes. These have served as emergency and scheduled landing sites for many aerospace projects including the Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

, Lockheed U-2
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

, SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by the Lockheed Skunk Works. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the...

, and the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...

. The lakebeds have black lines painted on it to mark seven official "runways". Also painted on the dry lake beds near Dryden is the world's largest compass rose
Compass rose
A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions — North, East, South and West - and their intermediate points. It is also the term for the graduated markings found on the traditional...

: 2000 feet (609.6 m) radius, 4000 feet (1,219.2 m), 0.75 miles (1.2 km) in diameter. The Edwards AFB compass rose's magnetic eastern variance to true north is measured by Google Earth's distance/direction measurement tool as inclined to magnetic north with a 15.3 degrees east variance of true north
True north
True north is the direction along the earth's surface towards the geographic North Pole.True geodetic north usually differs from magnetic north , and from grid north...

, as opposed to the stipulated official variance of 12.9 degrees east. Other nearby airports' (KMHV, L71
California City Municipal Airport
California City Municipal Airport is located two miles northwest of the central business district of California City, in the Fremont Valley of Kern County, California, USA...

) compass roses are depicted with around 13 degrees east variance, in line with the expected magnetic variance for this region. The reason for the discrepancy in Edward's compass rose is not apparent. The larger lake bed, Rogers, encompasses 44 square miles (114 km²) of desert. Because of Rogers' history in the space program, it was declared a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

.


The Rosamond dry lake bed encompasses 21 square miles (54.4 km²) and is also used for emergency landings and other flight research roles. Both lake beds are some of the lowest points in the Antelope Valley
Antelope Valley
The Antelope Valley in California, United States, is located in northern Los Angeles County and the southeastern portion of Kern County, California, and constitutes the western tip of the Mojave Desert...

 and they can collect large amounts of precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

. Desert winds whip this seasonal water around on the lakebeds and the process polishes them, yielding a new, extremely flat surface; the Rosamond lake bed was measured to have an altitude deviation of 18 inches (45.7 cm) over a 30000 feet (9,144 m) length; that's about 1 millimetre (0.0393700787401575 in) altitude deviation over every 20 metres (65.6 ft) of length.

The census-designated place encompasses an area of 44.378203 sqkm of which 1729 square metre (0.427244826853412 acre) is water.

Environmental concerns


There are several protected and threatened species living in Edwards, the most notable being the desert tortoise
Desert Tortoise
The desert tortoise is a species of tortoise native to the Mojave desert and Sonoran desert of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They can be located in western Arizona, southeastern California, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah. The species name agassizii is in honor of...

 (Gopherus agassizii). It is illegal to touch, harass or otherwise harm a desert tortoise. Edwards is careful not to interfere with this "gem in the desert". Another notable species is Yucca brevifolia: the taller members of this species are called Joshua trees.

Nearby bases


Another element of Edwards' success has been its proximity to other U.S. military bases. Edwards is close to Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, but it is also only a short flight south from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
- About : is part of under Commander, Navy Installation Command and is located in the Western Mojave Desert region of California, approximately north of Los Angeles. Occupying three counties – Kern, San Bernardino and Inyo – the installation’s closest neighbors are the cities of Ridgecrest,...

, Nellis Air Force Base
Nellis Air Force Base
Nellis Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base, located approximately northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is under the jurisdiction of Air Combat Command .-Overview:...

, and Groom Lake
Groom Lake
Groom Lake is a salt flat in Nevada used for runways of the Nellis Bombing Range Test Site airport on the north of the Area 51 USAF military installation. The lake at elevation is ~ from north to south and from east to west at its widest point...

 which houses Area 51
Area 51
Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large military airfield...

. Very secret aircraft developed at Edwards or other bases can easily and secretly be flown to a nearby base on moonless nights for maintenance or testing. Air Force Plant 42
Plant 42
Air Force Plant 42 is a federally owned military aerospace facility under the control of the Air Force Material Command in Palmdale, California...

 and other defense research facilities in Palmdale
Palmdale, California
Palmdale is a city located in the center of northern Los Angeles County, California, United States.Palmdale was the first community within the Antelope Valley to incorporate as a city on August 24, 1962; 47 years later, voters approved creating a charter city in November, 2009. Palmdale is...

 are only a few miles south of Edwards. The site of Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

's famous Skunk Works
Skunk works
Skunk Works is an official alias for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs , formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. Skunk Works is responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117 Nighthawk, and the F-22 Raptor...

, Plant 42 contains Boeing
Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

 and Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...

 aircraft manufacturing facilities as well. New, top-secret planes are often built at Plant 42 and then flown to the Main Base for secret nighttime testing.

Edwards' proximity to other bases has led to the establishment of the jointly-administered R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex
R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex
The R-2508 Complex includes all the airspace and associated land presently used and managed by the three principal military activities in the Upper Mojave Desert region:*Air Force Flight Test Center , Edwards Air Force Base...

. Containing Edwards, the Navy's China Lake and the Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's Fort Irwin bases, and a large amount of land in between, R-2508 is completely restricted above FL
Flight level
A Flight Level is a standard nominal altitude of an aircraft, in hundreds of feet. This altitude is calculated from the International standard pressure datum of 1013.25 hPa , the average sea-level pressure, and therefore is not necessarily the same as the aircraft's true altitude either...

200 for military use, and in some areas is restricted to the ground. The Department of Defense and its branches use this airspace to train pilots, and to test aircraft and weapons. Joint exercises are often conducted here, and sonic booms can be heard regularly.

Demographics



The United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

 has designated Edwards Air Force Base as a separate census-designated place
Census-designated place
A census-designated place is a concentration of population identified by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes. CDPs are delineated for each decennial census as the statistical counterparts of incorporated places such as cities, towns and villages...

 for statistical purposes.

2010


The 2010 United States Census reported that Edwards AFB had a population of 2,063. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 120.4 people per square mile (46.5/km²). The racial makeup of Edwards AFB was 1,518 (73.6%) White, 165 (8.0%) African American, 16 (0.8%) Native American, 99 (4.8%) Asian, 10 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 96 (4.7%) from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 159 (7.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 355 persons (17.2%).

The Census reported that 1,834 people (88.9% of the population) lived in households, 229 (11.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 574 households, out of which 387 (67.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 456 (79.4%) were opposite-sex married couples
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 33 (5.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 17 (3.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1 (0.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships
POSSLQ
POSSLQ is an abbreviation for "Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters," a term coined in the late 1970s by the United States Census Bureau as part of an effort to more accurately gauge the prevalence of cohabitation in American households....

, and 0 (0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 68 households (11.8%) were made up of individuals and 4 (0.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.20. There were 506 families
Family (U.S. Census)
A family or family household is defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes as "a householder and one or more other people related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. They do not include same-sex married couples even if the marriage was performed in a state...

 (88.2% of all households); the average family size was 3.48.

The population was spread out with 771 people (37.4%) under the age of 18, 392 people (19.0%) aged 18 to 24, 803 people (38.9%) aged 25 to 44, 87 people (4.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 10 people (0.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23.0 years. For every 100 females there were 106.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.1 males.

There were 785 housing units at an average density of 45.8 per square mile (17.7/km²), of which 8 (1.4%) were owner-occupied, and 566 (98.6%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0%; the rental vacancy rate was 0.2%. 16 people (0.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,818 people (88.1%) lived in rental housing units.

2000


As of the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

, there were 5,909 people, 1,678 households, and 1,515 families residing in the base. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 132.9 PD/sqkm. There were 1,783 housing units at an average density of 40.1 PD/sqkm. The racial makeup
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

 of the base was 72.7% White
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

, 10.4% Black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 or African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

, 0.8% Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, 4.4% Asian
Asian American
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

, 0.5% Pacific Islander
Pacific Islander
Pacific Islander , is a geographic term to describe the indigenous inhabitants of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania: Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, these three regions, together with their islands consist of:Polynesia:...

, 5.4% from other races, and 5.7% from two or more races. 11.7% of the population were Hispanic
Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

 or Latino
Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

 of any race.

There were 1,678 households out of which 67.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 84.9% were married couples
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, 3.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 9.7% were non-families. 9.1% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.19 and the average family size was 3.38.

In the base the population was spread out with 36.1% under the age of 18, 19.9% from 18 to 24, 42.1% from 25 to 44, 1.8% from 45 to 64, and 0.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 121.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 130.4 males.

The median income for a household in the base was $36,915, and the median income for a family was $36,767. Males had a median income of $27,118 versus $23,536 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the base was $13,190. About 1.0% of families and 1.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.3% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.

Politics


In the state legislature
California State Legislature
The California State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of California. It is a bicameral body consisting of the lower house, the California State Assembly, with 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, with 40 members...

 Edwards AFB is located in the 18th Senate
California State Senate
The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature. There are 40 state senators. The state legislature meets in the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The Lieutenant Governor is the ex officio President of the Senate and may break a tied vote...

 District, represented by Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Jean Fuller
Jean Fuller
Jean Fuller is a U.S. politician who serves in the California State Senate. A Republican, she was previously a member of the California Assembly and the Superintendent of Schools for the Bakersfield City School District....

, and in the 34th Assembly
California State Assembly
The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. There are 80 members in the Assembly, representing an approximately equal number of constituents, with each district having a population of at least 420,000...

 District, represented by Republican Connie Conway
Connie Conway
Connie Conway is a Republican politician from California. She is currently in the California State Assembly and is the Assemblymember from the 34th district which takes in many parts of California's Central Valley and High Desert areas. Prior to serving in the Assembly, Conway served as a Tulare...

. Federally, Edwards AFB is located in California's 22nd congressional district
California's 22nd congressional district
California's 22nd congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of California that covers parts of San Luis Obispo, Kern, and Los Angeles counties. The district is anchored in Bakersfield and takes in most of San Luis Obispo County....

, which has a Cook PVI
Cook Partisan Voting Index
The Cook Partisan Voting Index , sometimes referred to as simply the Partisan Voting Index , is a measurement of how strongly an American congressional district or state leans toward one political party compared to the nation as a whole...

 of R +16 and is represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy.

See also


  • Air Force Materiel Command
    Air Force Materiel Command
    Air Force Materiel Command is a major command of the United States Air Force. AFMC was created July 1, 1992 through the reorganization of Air Force Logistics Command and Air Force Systems Command....

  • John Stapp
    John Stapp
    John Paul Stapp, M.D., Ph.D., Colonel, USAF was a career U.S. Air Force officer, USAF flight surgeon and pioneer in studying the effects of acceleration and deceleration forces on humans...

     — Medical Doctor and research physicist; Contemporary and friend to Yeager and Murphy, known variously as Fastest human on earth, The bravest man in the Air Force, and The careful Daredevil, headed the historic MX981 rocket-sled research project.
  • Aerospace Walk of Honor
    Aerospace Walk of Honor
    The Aerospace Walk of Honor in Lancaster, California, USA, honors test pilots who have contributed to aviation and space research and development....

    , in nearby Lancaster, California
    Lancaster, California
    Lancaster is a charter city in northern Los Angeles County, in the high desert, near the Kern County line. Lancaster currently ranks as the 30th largest city in California, and the 148th largest city in the United States. Lancaster is the principal city within the Antelope Valley...

    , honors notable Edwards test pilots.
  • Murphy's Law
    Murphy's law
    Murphy's law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". - History :The perceived perversity of the universe has long been a subject of comment, and precursors to the modern version of Murphy's law are not hard to find. Recent significant...

     — point of origination sometime in 1949. Popularized by John Stapp, one time neighbor of engineer Edward A. Murphy
    Major Edward A. Murphy, Jr.
    Edward Aloysius Murphy, Jr. was an American aerospace engineer who worked on safety-critical systems. He is best-known for Murphy's law, which is said to state, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."...

    , his team coined the term which came out a few months afterwards in the first of Stapp's many press conferences over several decades. Murphy contributed measurement instruments that went awry to Doctor Stapp's MX981 project which sparked the laws naming to Murphy by Stapp's staff on his single visit to the program.
  • Pancho Barnes
    Pancho Barnes
    Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes was a pioneer aviator, the founder of the first test pilots union and the owner of the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a bar and restaurant. She broke Amelia Earhart's air speed record in 1930...

     — pioneer of women's aviation and the owner of the celebrated Happy Bottom Riding Club located on land annexed into Edwards
  • North Edwards — home of retired chief master sergeants and NASA
    NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

     engineers as well as early clay mines vital to Muroc's fortunes.
  • California World War II Army Airfields
    California World War II Army Airfields
    During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces established numerous airfields in California for training pilots and aircrews of USAAF fighters and bombers.-Overview:...

  • Mr. Monk and the Astronaut — an episode of the television series Monk
    Monk (TV series)
    Monk is an American comedy-drama detective mystery television series created by Andy Breckman and starring Tony Shalhoub as the titular character, Adrian Monk. It originally ran from 2002 to 2009 and is primarily a mystery series, although it has dark and comic touches.The series debuted on July...

    filmed partially on location at Edwards Air Force Base.

External links