The Raspet Flight Research Laboratory (Raspet) was established by Dr. August Raspet in 1948 and has been in continuous operation since its founding. The lab’s initial research was in low-speed aerodynamics and boundary layer control. This research culminated in the mid-1960’s with the design, construction and flight-testing of the U.S. Army’s XV-11A, an all-fiberglass short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft using active boundary layer suction and a turbine engine-driven ducted propeller.
Throughout the 1970’s, Raspet concentrated on general aviation research funded largely by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and by private industry. During this time Raspet conducted ground-breaking work on aircraft cooling drag and revolutionary design tools used to estimate and reduce aircraft drag. Additional research was done to discover new flight test methods that would isolate the thrust and drag components of aircraft performance – thereby greatly facilitating our modern understanding of propulsion and aerodynamic influences on aircraft performance.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Raspet was funded by the Honda Aircraft Co. to fabricate and assemble the world’s first all-composite experimental business jet, the Honda MH-02. In addition to fabrication and assembly, Raspet also conducted extensive flight testing of the Honda MH-02 to research, design, and improve engine placement and composite construction of the aircraft prototype. The first Honda MH-02 was completed in 1992 and conducted its maiden flight from the George M. Bryan Airport in Starkville, Mississippi, on March 5, 1993. By 1996, over 170 flight test hours were logged on the Honda MH-02 prototype, which remained the world’s only all-composite business jet throughout the entire project.
After completing the Honda MH-02, Raspet gained tremendous notoriety as the nation’s leading incubator of experimental aviation technology. Over the last two decades Raspet has facilitated the research, development, testing, and evaluation efforts of pioneering aerospace industry partners, including Boeing, GE Aviation, Airbus Helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Stark Aerospace – all of which maintain a regional presence in the Golden Triangle and contribute to the economic development of the aerospace industry in the state of Mississippi.
At present, Raspet remains true to its heritage by leading the nation in the latest and most challenging frontier of experimental aviation – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Raspet serves as MSU’s leading authority and research contributor for the FAA Center of Excellence for UAS (ASSURE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Common UAS Demonstration Range, the Pan-Pacific FAA UAS Test Site, and the Mississippi UAS Partnership consisting of MSU, NASA – Stennis Space Center, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, and the Jackson County Port Authority. In addition to its UAS efforts, Raspet remains a world leader in composite materials research through its Marvin B. Dow Advanced Composites Institute (ACI).