NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is in the process of uploading hundreds of videos of rare test flight, launch, and landing footage to YouTube and the agency’s website. It’s all part of a continued effort to better open access to NASA’s archives, as well as help inform the public about the types of research and record-setting milestones the agency achieves each year across various fields of aerospace engineering. The existence of the new, update archive on YouTube and the AFRC’s website was first reported by Motherboard.
About 300 out of a total 500 clips have been uploaded to YouTube thus far, with some footage going back many decades. The clips include everything from the assembly of the D-558 Skystreak aircraft back in 1947 to a 1991 takeoff of a Lockheed Martin SR-71 stealth jet to hypersonic test flights of the unmanned NASA X-43A in 2004. Though it was first uploaded back in March, you can also find the infamous “Controlled Impact Demonstration” video in which NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration flew a Boeing 720 jet into a device that tore its wings off, resulting in a giant explosion and an hour-long fire. (It was for the purpose of testing crash survivability and performing jet fuel combustibility research.)
Prior to today, the AFRC’s video library was available only through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the website of the Dryden Flight Research Center, which was the name of the Armstrong facility before a 2014 change. Now that it’s all on YouTube, it will be indexed by Google and more easily available through the company’s search engine. For those that just want to take a tour of aerospace history, however, just heading over and clicking on a few clips is a great way to start diving in.
Update 2:49PM ET, 7/21: Clarified that Motherboard first reported on NASA’s historic footage library being uploaded to YouTube and the AFRC website.