The agency that put the first man on the moon is now trying to help figure out how two brothers first took to the air almost a century ago.
Researchers at a NASA lab hope to re-create Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight of 1903, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales. A full-scale replica of the original Wright Flyer will undergo wind tunnel testing at the Ames Research Center in California.
NASA hopes the aeronautic tests will give them some clues how the underpowered, unstable craft ever got off the ground in the first place.
In a facility used to dealing with space shuttles and mars probes, the Flyer has NASA scientists gushing.
"This is where it all started and that makes them awe-inspired," said Pete Zell of NASA about the project researchers.
"This is the first great invention of the 20th century," remarked Fred Culick of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), which is helping conduct the study.
"We now have the ability to measure the aerodynamics and document that, and have it on record as to how the airplane really performed,"Culick said.
Researchers say they've already learned how inventive - and how brave - the Wright brothers were. Now they hope to duplicate their accomplishment.
"We understand broadly how they got it into the air," Kulick said. "What we're going to learn are the details we need to make a better version without major changes to the original design."
That re-created version of the Flyer will hopefully take flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. on December 17, 2003 - 100 years after the Wright brothers first flew.