NASA


Home

Staff and leadership

Space flight programs

Manned programs

X-15 rocket plane

Project Mercury

Project Gemini

Apollo program

Skylab

Apollo–Soyuz Test Project

Space Shuttle program

International Space Station

Commercial programs

Beyond Low Earth Orbit program

Aeronautics

Aeronautics is the science or art involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight capable machines, and the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere. The British Royal Aeronautical Society identifies the aspects of "aeronautical Art, Science and Engineering" and "the profession of Aeronautics (which expression includes Astronautics).
An early European to provide any scientific discussion of flight was Roger Bacon, who described principles of operation for the lighter-than-air balloon and the flapping-wing ornithopter, which he envisaged would be constructed in the future. The lifting medium for his balloon would be an "aether" whose composition he did not know.
Meanwhile, the discovery of hydrogen led Joseph Black in c. 1780 to propose its use as a lifting gas, though practical demonstration awaited a gas tight balloon material. On hearing of the Montgolfier Brothers' invitation, the French Academy member Jacques Charles offered a similar demonstration of a hydrogen balloon. Charles and two craftsmen, the Robert brothers, developed a gas tight material of rubberised silk for the envelope. The hydrogen gas was to be generated by chemical reaction during the filling process.
In an attempt the next year to provide both endurance and controllability, de Rozier developed a balloon having both hot air and hydrogen gas bags, a design which was soon named after him as the Roziere. The principle was to use the hydrogen section for constant lift and to navigate vertically by heating and allowing to cool the hot air section, in order to catch the most favourable wind at whatever altitude it was blowing. The balloon envelope was made of goldbeater's skin. The first flight ended in disaster and the approach has seldom been used since.
In 1809 he began the publication of a landmark three-part treatise titled "On Aerial Navigation" (1809–1810). In it he wrote the first scientific statement of the problem, "The whole problem is confined within these limits, viz. to make a surface support a given weight by the application of power to the resistance of air." He identified the four vector forces that influence an aircraft: thrust, lift, drag and weight and distinguished stability and control in his designs.
He developed the modern conventional form of the fixed-wing aeroplane having a stabilising tail with both horizontal and vertical surfaces, flying gliders both unmanned and manned.