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For release: Jan. 21, 1997

Catherine E. Watson
(757) 864-6122

Ann C. Gaudreaux
(757) 864-8150

Photo Release 97-004: X-33 Wind Tunnel Testing Continues at NASA Langley Research Center

A composite model of the X-33 is tested in NASA Langley’s 22-Inch Mach 20 Helium Tunnel

The country’s next generation of space transportation, a reusable launch vehicle (RLV), has taken on a more tangible form during wind tunnel testing at NASA Langley Research Center.

“Langley provides both model design and fabrication followed by wind tunnel testing and computational analysis for the X-33 RLV,” said John Paulson, an engineer in the Langley Aerothermodynamics Branch. “During Phase II, Langley is continuing to support configuration development through testing of a composite X-33 model in the 22-Inch Mach 20 Helium Tunnel. As Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has conducted wind tunnel tests to address low-speed aerodynamic concerns, Langley has provided hypersonic aerodynamic and control effectiveness information to ensure that ‘good’ low-speed concepts are also ‘good’ high-speed concepts.”

The helium tunnel was chosen because the X-33 models can be fabricated of wood or plastic. The X-33 models currently being tested in the helium tunnel are formed from resins using a process called stereolithography, and are about six inches long.

“These tests represent the high Mach number entry aerodynamics that are necessary to design an aerospace vehicle for flight in this speed regime,” said Bill Scallion, aerospace engineer in the Aerothermodynamics Branch, who heads up the aerodynamic testing for the X-33.

For photos and interviews, contact Ann Gaudreaux, (757) 864-8150, fax (757) 864-6333 or 864-8199, a.c.gaudreaux@larc.nasa.gov NASA Langley Research Center photo by Fred Jones.

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