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MADCAT's Maiden Flight a Success

The Mission Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies (MADCAT) demonstrator has successfully accomplished its first test flight at NASA Crows Landing facility. The flight test has proved the feasibility of the proposed lattice-based discrete construction concept, which is enabling mission adaptive wing-shaping controls.

BACKGROUND: MADCAT is a Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) funded project under the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). The objective of MADCAT is to develop a novel aerostructure concept by taking advantage of emerging digital composite manufacturing and fabrication methods to build a high stiffness-to-density ratio, ultra-light structure that can provide mission-adaptive and aerodynamically efficient air vehicles. This discrete construction approach offers additional design degrees of freedom for aircraft designers to achieve new flight objectives that are otherwise unachievable. The MADCAT demonstrator utilizes a wing-twist actuation mechanism that generates a linear span-wise wing-morphing capability, thereby producing both lateral and longitudinal directional control authority. In addition, the aerodynamic lift/drag can be modulated by varying wing-tip twist oscillation frequency. During the flight test, the pilot reported that, overall, MADCAT flew quite easily with sufficient control authority, and did not seem to fly any different from conventional aircraft with ailerons. Additional flight tests are planned with instrumentation of an advanced onboard video camera and sensing devices.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

TEAM: ARC: Sean Swei (PI), Kenneth Cheung (Co-PI), Daniel Cellucci (NASA Research Fellow, Cornell), Grace Copplestone, Nick Cramer (UC Santa Cruz), Susan Frost, Jesse Fusco, Christine Gregg (UC Berkeley), Benjamin Jenett (NASA Research Fellow, MIT), Joseph Kim, Alexandria Langford, Alex Mazhari, Greenfield Trinh, Khanh Trinh; LaRC: Mark A. Croom, Jay Brandon, and Charles M. Fremaux; Academia: Professor Neil Gershenfeld (Center for Bits & Atoms, MIT), Professor Weihua Su (University of Alabama), Professor Mircea Teodorescu (UC Santa Cruz), and Professor George G. Zhu (Michigan State University); Industry: Moog, Inc.


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