Aurora Flight Sciences manufactures state-of-the-art unmanned aerial systems and components for the scientific research, defense and homeland security markets. Aurora's unmanned aircraft are distinguished by their daring designs and record-breaking performances.
John Langford started Aurora Flight Sciences in a small Alexandria, VA office in May 1989. Langford had recently managed the world record breaking Daedalus human powered aircraft project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He believed that many of the technologies to build Daedalus were directly applicable to the design and manufacture of high altitude unmanned systems that could be used for global climate change research. By the end of the summer, Aurora had secured its first contract. In 1991 Aurora's first aircraft, AU-001, made its initial flight.
Two years later, the steadily growing Aurora Flight Sciences moved to a regional airport west of Manassas, VA. In a rundown hangar where the company paid reduced rent in return for fixing up the building, Aurora's small staff continued designing unmanned aerial vehicles for scientific research. The company quickly outgrew its original space at the Manassas Regional Airport, and in 1994 moved into a new, larger hangar. Another major event in 1994 was the opening of Aurora's first manufacturing plant in Fairmont, WV. Throughout the mid-1990s the pace of aircraft development at Aurora was rapid, and several landmark achievements, including a world altitude record set by the Perseus B, were accomplished.
In 2000, Aurora shifted its West Virginia operation to a manufacturing plant in Bridgeport, WV at the Harrison-Marion Regional Airport. The new Aurora Flight Sciences of West Virginia facility enables Aurora to provide cost-effective, high-precision manufacturing services to large defense contractors. In addition to acquiring the manufacturing facility, Aurora developed strategic relationships with leading defense companies such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon and Sikorsky. Aurora has been a major supplier to the RQ-4 Global Hawk program since 1995, providing the primary composite flight structures for the high altitude long endurance UAS.
As Aurora focused on UAS design and aerostructures manufacturing, the company decided to spin off its flight control technology group. Spinning off the unit allowed the new company, called Athena Technologies, to grow into a leading supplier of UAS flight control systems.
Over the years, Aurora applied for and won numerous Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts from a variety of federal agencies. To date, Aurora has performed more than $80.6 million of SBIR-related work for government agencies such as NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Between 2000 and 2003, Aurora's engineers developed a series of innovative aircraft for scientific and tactical missions. In 2002, the HADD-1, a prototype of Aurora's MarsFlyer aircraft, set a new company altitude record when it flew to 101,000 feet during a high-altitude flight test.
The company's GoldenEye 100 and GoldenEye 50 aircraft made their first flights in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The ducted-fan, vertical takeoff and landing GoldenEye family of unmanned aircraft are designed for the defense, homeland security and law enforcement markets. – less – More from ZoomInfo »