Mini Sniffer

NASA Mini-Sniffer II

A picture of the NASA Mini-Sniffer II

The Mini-Sniffer program began in 1975 as an unmanned aerial vehicle designed to conduct air sampling at high altitudes. Developed by the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, the Mini-Sniffer was designed as a cheaper alternative to manned high altitude aircraft. The Mini-Sniffer I was built with canards, swept wings and was powered by a small two stroke gas powered go-kart engine. After a hard landing, it was decided to modify the aircraft into a new design. The modifications included removing the canards and adding wing tips and tail booms. The redesign also added a gyroscope allowing the aircraft to remain level by rudder inputs alone. The modified Mini-Sniffer II on display here flew twenty flights up to altitudes of 20,000 feet.

Wingspan 21 ft 3 in. Wingspan
Length 12 ft 4 in. Length
Service Ceiling 20,000 ft Service Ceiling
Engines One McCulloch MC91B/1 two stroke single cylinder engine Engine

Manufacturer
NASA

Markings
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, late 1970s

Designation

Registration

Serial Number

The follow up design was the larger but lighter Mini-Sniffer III. The Mini-Sniffer III was powered by a non-air-breathing hydrazine engine that could take the aircraft and its payload up to 90,000 feet. There were also proposals to explore the atmosphere of Mars with Mini-Sniffer III drones. Unfortunately, the Mini-Sniffer III only flew one flight to 20,000 feet before hydrazine started leaking. The aircraft never flew again and the program was canceled.

Pima Air & Space Museum

Creating unlimited horizons in aerospace education through the preservation and presentation of the history of flight.

Charity EIN: 86-6031135

Copyright © 2019
Website by CS Design Studios

Contact Info

520-574-0462

6000 E. Valencia Road Tucson, AZ 85756

Open 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Daily Last admittance at 3:00pm