Introducing a New Era of Science: The NOAA/NASA Altair® Remotely Operated Aircraft Mission


Apr 13, 2005






Introducing a New Era of Science: The NOAA/NASA Altair® Remotely Operated Aircraft Mission

Learn more about this first-of-its kind mission that will be conducted by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI), the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA this spring off the coast of Southern California, near the Channel Islands. The series of Altair flights will demonstrate the ability of remotely operated aircraft to conduct a variety of Earth Science missions, taking scientists to places they have never been before.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005 

11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility 

25500 East Avenue R-8, Palmdale, California

Directions: Media traveling from the San Diego, Riverside or San Bernardino areas should head north on I-15, exit on Hwy. 138 and go west. Turn right on Sheep Creek Road, left on El Mirage Road, left on 240th Street East and then left on Avenue R-8. From Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley, travel north on Hwy. 14 and exit at Palmdale Blvd. Take Palmdale Blvd. east about 24 miles to 240th Street East, turn right on 240th Street East and then left on Avenue R-8.

Security Requirements: Media representatives planning to attend must be U.S. citizens and should provide driver’s license number and proof of media affiliation to Rebe Philip at or 858-455-4247 (fax) by April 15th.


Interview/photo opportunities will be available with the following mission partners:

Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., President & CEO, GA-ASI

Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans &
Atmosphere and Administrator, NOAA

Terrence Hertz, Deputy Associate Administrator for Technology, Aeronautics

Research Mission Directorate, NASA

Mission Scientists and Engineers

Attending VIPs and the media will also have the opportunity to view Altair in flight, witness real-time imagery being downlinked to the Command Center, and observe the sensor payload


The goal of the NOAA/NASA Altair Mission is to demonstrate the operational capabilities of remotely piloted aircraft systems for science missions related to oceanic and atmospheric research, climate research, marine sanctuary mapping and enforcement, nautical charting, and fisheries assessment and enforcement. The Altair remotely piloted aircraft system will carry a payload of instruments for measuring ocean color, atmospheric composition and temperature, and surface imaging. Six flights totaling approximately 53 hours flight time will be flown at altitudes up to 45,000 feet and durations of up to 20 hours in late April and early May. For more information, please visit


Altair, a high-altitude version of Predator® B, was specifically designed as an unmanned platform for scientific and commercial research missions that require endurance, reliability and increased payload capacity. Built in partnership with NASA, Altair has an 86-foot wingspan, can fly up to 52,000 feet, and can remain airborne for well over 30 hours. Marked as the first remotely piloted aircraft that will meet aviation authority requirements for unmanned flights in National Air Space, Altair is configured with a fault-tolerant dual-architecture flight control system and triple redundant avionics for increased reliability. In addition, the aircraft is currently being integrated with an automated collision avoidance system, as well as an air traffic control voice relay that will increase responsiveness and communication for flights in National Air Space.

ABOUT GA-ASI: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of proven, reliable, unmanned aircraft systems for military and commercial applications worldwide. Established in 1993, the company has expanded the acceptance and application of unmanned aircraft systems with the combat-proven Army I-GNAT®, operational with the U.S. Army; Predator, which has accumulated more than 120,000 flight hours with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Italian Air Force; the turboprop powered Predator B MQ-9 “Hunter-Killer,” operational with the U.S. Air Force; and Altus® and Altair, operated in conjunction with NASA for scientific research, atmospheric monitoring, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. GA-ASI has also led the way in providing the war fighter with a weapons delivery capability on Predator and Predator B. The company is dedicated to providing long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft systems to meet demanding and diverse customer requirements. For more information, please visit

Altair, Predator, GNAT and Altus are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

Additional information on the NOAA/NASA Altair Remotely Operated Aircraft Mission may be obtained by contacting the following:

Kimberly Kasitz
Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

Madelyn Appelbaum
NOAA Headquarters
+1 (202) 482-4858 

Beth Hagenauer
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
+1 (661) 276-7960

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